Waste Wood Use Research: Northwestern Massachusetts CES-Funded Research Internship

This internship-research project is under the auspices of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership (MTWP), a public body that is a consortium of municipalities, MA-Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, the US Forest Service, regional planning agencies, land trusts, watershed associations, economic development agencies, and academics.  The mission of the MTWP is to encourage sustainable forest management as a means of economic development, and to revitalize the regional economy based on woodlands providing forest products, ecotourism, and carbon sequestration.

While timber harvesting, outdoor recreation, and the production of carbon offsets come readily to mind as obvious wood “products,” each year a considerable amount of “waste” wood is generated through forest logging, product manufacturing, utility infrastructure maintenance, arborist activities, and municipalities trimming trees or removing them entirely from town parkways and streetscapes. The study will conduct an inventory, analysis, and evaluation of the amounts of wood wastes that are being generated annually by public, private, and institutional entities in the 21 municipalities that comprise the MTWP Region in Northern Berkshire and Western Franklin Counties.  The study will also explore both the current uses of the wood waste and the future uses that might be economically viable: A. Short-term uses such as mulch, animal bedding, paper/pulp/fiber, etc.  B. Long-term uses such as Oriented Strand Board, particle board, engineered wood products such as laminated beams, and wood slabs from burls and logs from street trees.  C. Combustion in municipal, institutional, commercial, or industrial facilities, or private facilities through programs such as wood banks.

Students will work for 8 weeks (13 June to 5 August) on this project under the supervision of faculty from Williams College (Hank Art) and MCLA (Elana Traister). The team will have access to a resource team that includes members of the MTWP, the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation, and The New England Forestry Foundation.  Covid protocols this summer permitting, the project will involve either remote contact with constituencies, or through email, telephone, virtual platforms.

Useful skills possessed by applicant, but not absolutely essential for all team members:

Excel, Word, and general Office software

GIS – ArcMap / ArcGIS

Economic Analysis tools

Interest in environmental policy

Love of digging for data

For more information contact:

Henry W. Art, MTWP Board Chair & Professor of Environmental Studies, emeritus, Williams

[email protected]

Elana Traister, Professor of Environmental Studies, MCLA

[email protected]