Trees and forests are not cut down just for biomass energy. That doesn't make sense for forests and it doesn't make sense economically. Sustainable biomass power relies on sustainable forest management principals, supported primarily by higher-value markets such as board, paper and lumber manufacturing. Many manufacturers require that their wood resources are managed, harvested and procured under sustainable forest certifications. Managing forest residuals – tops, limbs, invasive species, and dead or disease wood – is vitally important to forest health. Markets for that material, supported by biomass power production, is an important tool in these efforts.
Keeping forest healthy often requires management. These objectives include species diversity, wildlife habitat, sanitation for disease or infestation, removal of invasive species, and mitigation of fire risk. Biomass power provides an outlet for this material by providing a market that reduces costs, and a method of destruction that keeps disease, pests and invasive species out of the environment.
Genesee Power Station near Flint was the "point of destruction" for the emerald ash borer, an invasive beetle from Asia that is killing North American ash trees. All the ash trees removed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to slow the spread of the beetle was burned in the power plant's boiler, ensuring the pest was destroyed.
Roughed grouse, a popular North American game bird, needs young aspen stands for habitat. Stands of mature aspen need to be periodically harvested to promote new growth for the birds. Biomass power provides a market for that aspen wood when higher value markets are present, helping lower the cost of the treatment and providing an outlet for the material.
Each year the U.S. Forest Services removes small diameter brush from the national forests in Michigan, in areas that pose a fire risk to neighboring private properties. Biomass power plants buy this material, reducing the cost of these treatments and providing an outlet for the material.