Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type


Program or Major

Natural Resources and Environmental Studies

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Theodore E Howard

Second Advisor

Mark J Ducey

Third Advisor

John M Halstead


Renewable energy has a number of environmental and socioeconomic advantages over the energy derived from finite fossil fuels, which is why it has been increasingly promoted on the state and federal levels. Growing interest in renewable energy calls for detailed analysis of the effects the potential increase in production of such energy might have on the existing markets.

The obvious choice for the source of renewable energy in New England and New York is wood biomass due to the region’s abundant forest resources and extensive wood harvesting and processing infrastructure. To analyze the impacts of increased wood biomass consumption for energy production on timber market, a modified Sub-Regional Timber Supply model (NE-SRTS) was used. The response of inventory, removals and price of four traditional wood product classes (hardwood pulpwood, hardwood sawtimber, softwood pulpwood and softwood sawtimber) to different scenarios of increased wood biomass consumption was modeled over the projection period of 50 years.

Six increased wood biomass consumption and one reference case scenario were analyzed using NE-SRTS. In the reference case scenario, current (2015) levels of wood biomass consumption are assumed to remain constant over the entire projection period. Increasing demand for wood biomass without and with policy driven restrictions on residuals removals is modeled in scenarios A1, A2, B1, B2, and increased competition from hydropower without and with residual removal restrictions is modeled in scenarios A3 and B3.

Modeling results show that increased wood biomass consumption would affect the pulpwood (hardwood and softwood) market resulting in price and removals increases compared to reference case scenario. On the other hand, sawtimber market would not be influenced by these scenarios, because sawtimber is too valuable for use in wood energy production.

To understand how sensitive the projection results are to changes in elasticity parameter values, all scenarios were re-examined using sets of changes in elasticities favorable and unfavorable to wood biomass consumption. Results indicate that removals would be more sensitive to elasticity value changes than inventory.

The present study provides an initial analysis of the effects of increased wood biomass consumption on the timber markets in New England and New York region. This work has some limitations which can be addressed in future studies. One of such limitations is requirement of constant elasticity values over the projection period. Future studies might also focus on state-level modeling and additional modeling scenarios reflecting the developing state and federal renewable energy policies.