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Small-Woodland Owners' Attitudes Towards Energy from Forest Biomass in Nova Scotia
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The use of forest biomass (by thermal combustion to electricity processes), has been recognized by the Government of Nova Scotia (NS) as one option which could help meet short- and long term energy generation goals (aggressively set at 25% and 40% by 2015 and 2020 respectively). However, while approximately 77% of NS land area is forest covered, there is significant concern about the sustainability and stewardship of this natural resource. This controversy inspired a deeper investigation into the attitudes towards forest biomass held by one particular stakeholder group—small-woodland owners—and also the rural community members living in the same regions. 51% of the forested area in NS is owned by small-private woodland owners and as such, they will play an integral role in the future of NS’s forest economy and sustainability. How these stakeholders feel about the forests, the alternative uses for forest biomass and its use in large scale energy production could have a significant impact on the future of forest biomass use - particularly for energy - in NS. 489 small-woodland owners responded to mail-out surveys and 14 rural community members participated in three focus groups. Three major findings emerged. Firstly, it was found that the acceptability of using forest products varied depending on multiple factors— the source of biomass, harvesting methods, and [predicted] end-use. Secondly, forest sustainability and keeping resources local were the two most important concerns amongst respondents. Finally, respondents felt that better collaboration with other stakeholders and objective education around the issues would be the best strategies to overcoming these concerns.