Workshop Context In many parts of the world, illegal logging continues to drive deforestation and poses a significant threat to biodiversity, the livelihoods of forest-dependent communities and the rule of law. As part of an international effort to combat illegal logging, the U.S. Lacey Act was amended in 2008 to require that an importer must declare the species and origin of the forest product they are importing. Since then, government and academic labs have been working to develop methods to identify the species and origin of timber and wood-based products. However, the ability to scale these methods and make them available to enforcement officials and the private sector has yet to materialize.
One of the problems for enforcement agents tasked with Lacey compliance is an inability to quickly and accurately verify the information in customs declarations. For all but the most experienced wood scientists, timber and forest products are nearly impossible to identify to species. Additionally, there is little to aid an agent in verifying a timber or wood product’s origin.
This workshop will convene academic, government and enforcement sector entities to help map out the biggest challenges, and set up partnerships and collaborations to resolve these challenges in the United States. Participants from SEFS include Professors Ivan Eastin and Indroneil Ganguly, Research Associates Daisuke Sasatani and Francesca Pierobon, and alumnus John Simeone. Other core participants will include scientists who have built methods in wood identification using mass spectrometry, stable isotope, wood anatomy, genetics and near-infrared spectroscopy; scientists who employ these methods on non-wood based materials; and state and national enforcement agents who will provide insights on their needs.
This past November, Alaska Airlines made history by completing the first commercial flight using an alternative jet fuel made in part from forest residuals, the limbs and branches that remain after the harvesting of managed forests. The first-of-its-kind renewable biofuel comprised 20 percent of the jet fuel blend, and it helped power the demonstration flight on a Boeing 737-800—carrying several elected officials and a number of researchers involved in the project, including Professor Indroneil Ganguly and SEFS doctoral candidate Laurel James, among the 163 passengers—from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. This cross-country flight on November 14 provided a triumphant culmination to a five-year USDA-funded project, led by Washington State University (WSU).
Nearly lost in the press coverage and excitement, though, were some of the contributions SEFS researchers made as key partners in this bio-jet fuel development, including leading the overall environmental, community and deep soil carbon impact assessments of this bio-based alternative energy.
Guiding the cutting-edge research on this alternative jet fuel has been the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance (NARA), a partnership of public universities, government laboratories and private industry. NARA received a $40 million grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture in 2011 to develop bio-based alternatives to traditionally petroleum-based products such as jet fuel. Led by WSU, NARA organized a comprehensive approach to building a supply chain for aviation biofuel with the goal of increasing efficiency in everything from forestry operations to conversion processes. The project aimed to create a sustainable industry to produce aviation biofuels and valuable co-products, all while empowering rural economies, increasing America’s energy security, and reducing aviation’s environmental impact.
At SEFS, Indroneil and Dr. Francesca Pierobon led a team of researchers evaluating the overall environmental footprint of the bio-jet fuel using a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment (LCA). To meet the U.S. Energy Independence and Securities Act standards, it was critical to be able to show that using this renewable biofuel could achieve at least a 60 percent lifecycle Greenhouse Gas (GHG) reduction threshold. Impressively, their LCA demonstrated the potential for as much as a 72-percent reduction in lifecycle GHG emissions using NARA’s jet fuel, which is chemically indistinguishable from regular jet fuel.
Typical forest harvest operations in the Pacific Northwest, after all, leave behind a considerable volume of unused residual woody biomass, most of which is collected into piles in the forest and burned. “So in my opinion,” says Indroneil, “the most important environmental benefit associated with producing this bio-jet fuel is the avoided slash pile burns, which improves local air quality and reduces the local health impacts caused by the harmful pollutants generated from burning.”
Through a community impact assessment (CIA), Professor Ivan Eastin—who led SEFS’ overall involvement in the project—and Research Associate Daisuke Sasatani evaluated the potential economic impacts, including job creation, of a bio-jet fuel production facility located in the Pacific Northwest. They found that establishing a commercial-sized bio-jet fuel production plant, located in southwestern Washington and producing 35 million gallons of woody biomass-based jet fuel per year, could generate approximately $650 million in industrial output while directly creating 173 jobs within the production facility—and indirectly leading to the creation of an additional 1,200 jobs within the supply chain.
For the soil carbon impacts assessment, Professor Rob Harrison led stump decomposition, deep soil carbon retention and nutrient sustainability studies. He and his team concluded that Pacific Northwest forests—particularly moist coastal coniferous forests—are highly productive due partly to high belowground resource stocks and availability. They further concluded that these resource stocks are likely to be resilient to additional biomass harvest removals that would provide feedstock for a biofuels and biochemical industry.
These findings, coupled with the successful demonstration flight, highlighted some of the enormous potential of viable alternatives to replace conventional fossil fuels for aviation.
“By creating an advanced drop-in biofuel from residual woody biomass, which is generally disposed of by open burning,” says Indroneil, “we are not only addressing the global warming issue by displacing fossil fuel, we are also presenting an economic alternative for forest-dependent communities.”
The schedule is set for the Fall 2016 SEFS Seminar Series, and this quarter’s talks are loosely organized around a spatial theme, “Ecosystems, Ecology and Management at Scales.” We’re excited to welcome a wide range of speakers, from new faculty hire Brian Harvey, to a research fellow from Tasmania, to Professor Randy Dahlgren, who will be visiting from UC Davis to give the Distinguished Alumni Seminar.
Held on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223, the talks are always open to the public, and the first seminar of each month will be followed by a casual reception down the hall in the Forest Club Room (or the Salmon BBQ, in the case of the October 5 seminar!). Students can register for course credit under SEFS 529A.
Check out the schedule below and join us for as many talks as you can!
Week 1: September 28
“Carbon cycling in the global forest system”
Dr. Tom Crowther
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Week 2: October 5*
“From subduction to salmon: Geologic subsidies drive high productivity of a volcanic spring-fed river”
Professor Randy Dahlgren
Week 3: October 12
“Putting PNW retention forestry practices into a global context”
Dr. Sue Baker
University of Tasmania & Forestry Tasmania
Week 4: October 19
“A comparison of low-intensity management options for Douglas-fir dominated forests in western WA”
Professor Greg Ettl
Week 5: October 26
“Bring on the heat: How climate change may protect eastern hemlock”
Dr. Angela Mech
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Week 6: November 2*
“Avoided impacts on human health by recovering wood residues for bioenergy and bioproducts in the Pacific Northwest”
Professor Indroneil Ganguly
Week 7: November 9
“Unlikely hero, or the next to fall? Causes and consequences of subalpine fir mortality in the wake of recent bark beetle outbreaks”
Dr. Brian Harvey
Smith Fellow (and future SEFS faculty member!)
Week 8: November 16
“California spotted owl habitat: New insights from a multiscale analysis from LiDAR data”
Professor Van Kane
Week 9: November 30 “Changing fire regimes in eastern Washington: Recent large wildfire events and implications for dry forest management”
Dr. Susan Prichard
SEFS Research Scientist
Week 10: December 7*
“Exploring frequent fire forests at multiple scales”
Dr. Keala Hagmann
Postdoctoral Research Associate
This winter, we are excited to host the first Carbon Seminar (ESRM 429a), which runs Tuesday mornings from 8:30 to 9:20 a.m. in Anderson 223 (apologies for this announcement coming too late for the first talk). It features weekly lectures from leading UW scientists who are covering the applications and cycles of carbon—the most interdisciplinary element!
The talks are open to the public, so check out the full schedule below and join us as often as you can!
Week 1: January 5
“Diagnosing drought in a changing climate”
Professor Abigail Swann, Atmospheric Sciences & Biology
Week 2: January 12
“Forests, fire and reality in the global C cycle”
Director Tom DeLuca, SEFS
Week 3: January 19
“Deep soil C quantification and modeling”
Jason James, SEFS doctoral student
Week 4: January 26 “Climate adaptations in the Pacific Northwest”
Dean Amy Snover, Director, Climate Impacts Group
Week 5: February 2
“Life Cycle Assessment of bio-products and technology”
Professor Indroneil Ganguly, SEFS/CINTRAFOR
Week 6: February 9
“Crude oil remediation of soils by earthworm symbionts”
Professor Seana Davidson, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Week 7: February 16
“Water remediation from biomass-based C nanomaterials”
Professor Anthony Dichiara, SEFS
Week 8: February 23
“Microbial C production and diversity on the early Earth”
Dr. Eva Stueeken, NASA Postdoctoral Associate, Astrobiology
Week 9: March 1
“Applied climatology and wildfire C emissions”
Dr. Sim Larkin, Research Physical Climatologist and Team Leader, U.S. Forest Service AirFire Team
Week 10: March 8
“Microorganisms and the marine C cycle”
Professor Anitra Ingalls, Oceanography
As soon as finals are done tomorrow, things are going to get eerily quiet around here for a couple weeks as folks scatter for the holiday break. But just about as soon as the calendar turns to 2014, we’ll start firing up the academic boilers once again, and that includes the return of the SEFS Seminar Series!
For the Winter Quarter, we’re moving the seminars back to Wednesdays, but the hour and place remain the same: 3:30-4:20 p.m. in Anderson 223. We’ll be hosting a casual reception after the first seminar of each month—January 8, February 5 and March 5—and all students, staff and faculty are welcome to attend.
Last week, a delegation from the Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF) visited the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) for two hours of short presentations and discussions on April 3. The delegation included members from the research section of the State Forestry Administration (the equivalent of the U.S. Forest Service), and from the Gansu Province Forestry Department.
On the agenda, SEFS presentations included introductions from SEFS Director Tom DeLuca and Professor Indroneil Ganguly; Professor Greg Ettl (“Sustainable Forest Management at Pack Forest”); Professors Stevan Harrell and Tom Hinckley (“Forest Expansion onto Meadowlands, U.S. v. China”); and Professor David Ford (“Overview of Sustainable Forest Management at the Olympic Natural Resources Center”). Madam Hu Zhangcui from CAF then followed with “PRC-GEF Partnership on Land Degradation in Dryland Ecosystems: Current Progress, Achievements and Prospects” before a final discussion session.
SEFS’ collaboration with Chinese researchers began in 1999, when the UW established a joint program to study environmental challenges in the two countries. Professor Emeritus Tom Hinckley had joined several exploratory trips to Sichuan around that time, visiting a future research site at Jiuzhaigou National Park in the northwestern part of the province.
When the university began an undergraduate student exchange, Professor Hinckley joined Anthropology Professor Steve Harrell and Biology Professor Dick Olmstead in leading a multinational team to Yangjuan Village in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in the summer of 2002 to conduct joint research on forest ecology, agriculture, plant biodiversity and local history. Several SEFS (and previously CFR and SFR) students have since conducted research there.