NAU Shipping Wood Chips To South Korea To Help With Wildfire Prevention
Northern Arizona University has worked with multiple agencies for the past year to ship wood chips to South Korea. The process starts Wednesday, and it will help forest restoration efforts, prevent wildfires and bring in income to the state.
Low-value wood, often in chips, costs Flagstaff about $40 per ton to transport to Phoenix, according to Han-Sup Han, a director at the Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU. He says that in Arizona, that’s more than it’s worth.
“South Korea is a small country, and they do not have much forest resources available within the country. So they are willing to pay the price for a biomass coming into South Korea,” Han said.
Han said South Korea has a policy to use more renewable energy sources, like biomass energy, instead of fossil fuels.
The shipping process will take place over eight days. Chips will be loaded onto railroad cars then placed on cargo ships to South Korea. Han says he thinks this is the beginning of a long partnership and hopes that other forests and states follow.
“We are sending about 60 containers, which is equivalent to about 1,300 tons of wood chips. Now, if full scale operation happens, we are thinking to send about the 220 shipping containers every other week," Han said.
He said the shipping process begins Wednesday and will last eight days. He says he expects the program to grow to a full-scale operation, potentially shipping 5,000 tons every other week.