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Carbon Cycle

Vast amounts of carbon are stored in the world's forests and forest growth stores atmospheric additional carbon in biomass.  The forest biomass maybe converted into wood products or into soil organic matter which in turn might store the carbon for some length of time until they decay or burn.  Decay and burning release carbon back into the atmosphere completing the cycle.  The status of the forest carbon pool is important because retaining forest cover and enhancing forest growth or establishing new forests will contribute to reducing atmospheric carbon which may mitigate global climate change.

"Carbon Trading: A primer for forest landowners" provides background about the carbon cycle and aspects of carbon trading and carbon storage.  While the possibility for carbon trading is currently limited it is important to keep informed as US and international policies change.

A large number of Alabama forest products mills use residual wood and purchase wood fuel to provide steam and power for their processes and many sell excess power. Some local power plants have experimented using wood with coal of gas in power generation.  Wood pellet mills are under construction in several locations in the Southeast and Alabama.  Pellets can be used to generate heat and power in commercial and residential developments.  Conversion of cellulose (wood) to ethanol for transportation fuel is advancing with a few plants in the southeast under development.

The Alabama Forestry Commission posted an assessment of potential for power generation from Alabama wood resources.  For more information about the use of wood for energy refer to the Encyclopedia of Southern Bioenergy.

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