Tara Hamilton is heading a study to assess the Valley’s biomass potential. The first goal with the Northern Forest Alliance/UVM biomass study is simply to connect with everyone here in the valley who has any interest in biomass at all, to get the best input on what anyone here is already thinking about utilizing the watershed’s biomass resources sustainably, and also what anyone has learned or done so far. The NFA/UVM project is just getting underway and is open to all kinds of ideas as they determine how to direct the project’s funding and student resources. A summary of the project appears below and Tara’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone would like to discuss it more.
NFA will implement a three-year action research project to implement and monitor a shared multi-town biomass heating and power project in the Mad River Valley in Washington County, Vermont. The project should contribute to the question “how can communities in and near the Northern Forest produce and use local forest biomass to meet their energy needs in ways that are sustainable, efficient and fair?” and be framed within the larger methodological question of “how can universities and communities work together more effectively to share learning and enhance the impacts of sustainability initiatives in the Northern Forest?
NFA’s goals will be to:
1. Improve understanding and effectiveness of renewable local wood biomass production and conservation in the Mad River Valley.
2. Together with other project partners, develop a model for consensus-based, community identification and implementation of sustainable, local wood biomass projects.
3. Together with other project partners, create a foundation for improved collaborative learning among universities and forest communities to increase the impact of sustainability initiatives in the Northern Forest.
To accomplish these goals, NFA will:
(1) Use focus groups, key respondents, forest inventories and surveys to collect quantitative and qualitative data on the current use, production and management of forest-based biomass in the Mad River Valley community cluster by Sept 2009. Baseline data will cover forest condition (including coarse woody debris), existing and recent biomass production and consumption, communities’ energy priorities and knowledge about existing biomass options, how community decisions are made and community goals for sustainability;
(2) Facilitate communities in the Mad River Valley community cluster to identify practices that will improve their production, use, or management of biomass and define local indicators for ecological, social and economic sustainability, including impacts on atmospheric carbon, by Dec 2009.
(3) Monitor 5 to 7 new practices in the Mad River Valley cluster according to indicators by June 2011. Practices should be able to show at least partial impacts in 18 months.
(4) Analyze and compare community decision-making and adaptation through key informant interviews, participant observation and review of meeting materials and minutes to compare community decision-making processes and outcomes.
Dennis Derryberry and Bob Ferris