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Willow/Woody Biomass

Driven by the challenges of sustainability, climate change, and rural development, ESF is actively working with numerous university, private, and public partners to research and develop shrub willow for renewable energy and environmental applications.

Willow systems can be multifunctional and produce sustainable energy along with other value-added benefits to ecosystems and communities.


About Shrub Willow

Shrub willow is a short-rotation woody crop that rapidly produces large amounts of renewable biomass.

  • Lifecycle assessments show that willow is a climate-neutral fuel that does not increase greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.
  • Willow can be grown on underutilized and marginal lands, stimulating rural development and job creation. Willow can also be grown on former industrial sites and provide bioremediation benefits.
  • Willow plantings provide many ecosystem services such as minimizing soil erosion, minimizing the use of fertilizers and water pollution, and increasing wildlife habitat, biodiversity, and food sources for pollinators.
  • Willow is also an ideal plant choice many other environmentally-friendly systems such as living snow fences, buffer strips, stream bank stabilization and other forms of ecological engineering.

One willow planting can be harvested seven or more times on a three-year cycle, with limited maintenance between harvests. ESF has teamed up with more than 20 universities, commercial partners, and non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. and Canada to conduct research and facilitate the commercialization of shrub willow systems. Willow bioenergy production and bioremediation systems are now planted on over 1250 acres of land in New York State, and other applications of willow are being deployed across the landscape. 

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