On loblolly pine plantations in the Southeast, timber harvesting often involves an extra step: gleaning woody debris left behind after clearcutting. Branches, treetops and smaller trees are sources of biomass that can be compressed to make wood pellets, a renewable energy source often used for heating stoves and generating electricity.
Biomass harvesters may leave some of the woody debris on the ground to conserve food and cover for wildlife, but the guidelines they follow vary widely. Recommendations for the amount of debris to be left on the ground range from 10 to 30 percent, depending on the state. Some guidelines recommend creating piles of debris, while others say it should be left scattered across the land.