Private Forest Landowner Willingness, Community Impacts and Concerns, and the Development of a Wood-based Biofuels Industry

Open Access
Larson, Eric Charles
Graduate Program:
Rural Sociology
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
March 28, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Albert E Luloff, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Albert E Luloff, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • James Craig Finley, Committee Member
  • Anouk Patel, Committee Member
  • Mark A Brennan Jr., Committee Member
  • Biofuels
  • Community Development
  • Private Forest Landowners
  • PFLs Willingness
  • Social Constraints
The technical/economic aspects of using wood-based biomass as an alternative source of fuel have been well represented in current academic literature. However, currently very few studies have examined the concerns of private forest landowners (PFLs) and communities toward increased harvesting rates to support a wood-based biofuels industry. Further, few studies have tried to study or to determine what factors might impact such willingness. The absence of studies that focus on understanding PFLs and community concerns as well as PFLs willingness to participate in harvesting biofuels for energy is in part traceable to two basic, but untested, assumptions regarding communities and forest landowners: (1) PFLs are able and willing to participate in the production of raw materials with few obstacles; and (2) they will make the transition because of the opportunity to increase profits. While the technical/economic aspects are clearly important, little attention has been paid to those social and cultural factors that may impact the viability of such activity. To address this issue, the present study focused on three questions. (1) What are the opportunities and concerns of PFLs, communities, residents, and existing wood-based industries regarding the development of a wood-based biofuel industry? (2)Will PFLs be willing to harvest raw materials for a wood-based biofuel industry? (2a) What sociocultural and sociodemographic dimensions influence PFLs’ willingness to harvest raw materials for a wood-based biofuel industry? Data was collected using a mixed methods approach including using secondary data, key informant interviews and a phone survey of both the general public and PFLs in the Eastern forest region.