What is forest biomass?
Forest biomass is basically made up of trees or parts of trees that would not be used by traditional wood-processing industries but still can serve to fuel power generation facilities. More specifically, it is comprised of crop residues (branches and tops), unused species of trees and low quality trees. It can also come from trees that are affected by natural disturbances (fires and insects) or from plantations of fast-growing species specifically designated for use in energy production (heat, electricity, biofuels).
Forest biomass is the largest source of raw material currently available for bioenergy production in Canada.
The Germans invented the gazification process used to convert forest biomass during World War II to keep their military fleet on the move. Since they had no oil, they equipped their vehicles with equipment that could turn coal into gas. Gasification has also been used industrially to produce methanol from coal and gasification of mineral coal is still widely used on an industrial scale to produce electricity.
Tapping into the potential of forest biomass creates regional jobs and ensures more productive land occupancy by consolidating the timber supply chain. The MFFP estimates that there are approximately 6.5 million dry metric tons of forest biomass available annually in Quebec's public and private forests. To take advantage of this potential and create new opportunities for economic diversification in the Province, the ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs developed a forest biomass Action Plan in 2009.