EBI Personnel Directory Potts, Matthew

ESE Impacts

Matthew Potts





Improving the Biofuels vs. Afforestation Debate

This project increases understanding of where and under what conditions, if any, the growth of biofuel feedstocks is preferable to afforestation, in terms of greenhouse gas balances. The scope is global, but we focus particularly on marginal and degraded land. Previous analyses addressing similar questions have used broad coarse classifications, ignoring much of the important variability in environmental factors (e.g. soil characteristics) and anthropogenic influences (e.g. past land uses, future management regimes). We explore this issue in much greater depth. First, we conduct a comprehensive literature review to compile data for refining previous estimates and to identify key gaps in knowledge. Second, we conduct quantitative analyses of afforestation and biofuel crop scenarios, with the goal of identifying the regions and soil conditions that are best suited for each option.

Reducing Risk and Dependency to Create Energetic Working Forests: Developing a Systems-Based Approach to Sustainability

The goal of the project is to analyze the viability of sustainable woody bioenergy systems for forested regions throughout North America. We will utilize an interdisciplinary, systems-based approach that integrates ecological, economic and social aspects of forestry to compare and contrast the production economics, market conditions, climate change impacts, and environmental sustainability challenges to identify common opportunities and risks for the development of sustainable bioenergy systems. We will produce two outputs: (i) a synthetic assessment of sustainable bioenergy production from North American forests; (ii) case studies revealing regional differences in constraints and opportunities for forest-sourced bioenergy feedstocks that will be integrated into evolving forest and wood products system where biofuels rather than paper products will be the major end use for moderate value wood products.

Best Practices for Sustainable Sugarcane Production

Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of sugar, putting the country at the frontier of global biofuel production. The project aims to: (i) develop spatial management plans that maximize economic efficiencies in sugarcane production and processing while meeting the Forest Code, ZAE-Cana, and voluntary certification standards; and, (ii) compare and contrast different management plans to elucidate the tradeoffs between sugarcane production, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem services production at the landscape level.