Accepted Paper:

Residual Forests: Making Ontario's Crown Forests into Bioenergy Feedstock  

Author:

Andrew Schuldt (University of British Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper investigates how trees from Ontario’s Crown forests are being made into potential sources of energy. It examines the processes of knowledge production that make forests legible to speculation including: forestry science; consulting and financial reporting; and renewable energy policies.

Paper long abstract:

This paper examines how trees from Ontario's Crown forests are being made into potential sources of energy. Approximately 2% of the world's forests are located in Ontario; roughly 90% of which fall under state ("Crown") control. Management of these resources, therefore, plays an important economic and cultural role in the province. Ontario is actively seeking to replace aging electricity generating capacity with renewable sources, including bioenergy. Whether used to produce energy, fuel, or other bioproducts, projects utilizing woody biomass require large volumes of suitable feedstock at a cost that enables profitability. Developers have historically selected sites at or near existing primary forestry industries, like sawmills, where inexpensive residual wood "wastes" have been available in abundance. However, declining consumption from the forest products industry has reduced the available volume of biomass and employment. As a result, unprocessed whole trees are being reimagined as potential sources of bioenergy and jobs. This change marks an important categorical shift in the usage of forests, effectively reconfiguring them as potential energy crops, and disrupting the image of energy projects using woody biomass as waste recyclers.

Based upon over three years' experience conducting feedstock supply assessments, this paper investigates the intersection of state, capital, and nature and presents an account of how forests are turned into potential sources of renewable energy. I examine the processes of knowledge production and circulation that make forests legible to speculation including: forestry science and sustainability standards; consulting and financial reporting; and renewable energy policies.

Panel T124
Energy Beyond Crisis: Energetic Bodies, Ecologies, and Economies