“Coarse woody debris” is wood in the forest from dead limbs and fallen trees. It’s a lot of stored carbon and that’s a good thing as society tries to deduce the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The trees themselves are stored or bound carbon and their fallen parts are part of the cycle that releases carbon and minerals. In the healthy forest floor, there is long-term build up of organic matter, carbon and decaying plant parts … all habitats for a great diversity of plants and animals … microscopic to giant bears. Such soils protect tree roots, stabilize moisture and mineral flows, and prevent erosion. The trees, plants, and “mulch” of the forests are the re-charge platform for our water supplies.
Trees, all parts of them, now look good for fuels to replace losses from the high costs of fossil fuel. A different look suggests that what you see in a forest is production of a few years. Oil is that from hundreds of years. A different look suggests we might take wood for fuel (chipping, bundling, or even converting it to a liquid fuel) and lose our water supply. An historical look will convince us that other societies have excessively harvested their forests and lost their land to wind and water erosion. It will be as important to prevent taking too much coarse woody debris from the forest as it is to prevent over harvesting the trees for lumber, pulp, and other products. It will be very difficult to balance the total amount of carbon removed from each forest tract against the total amount of carbon stored within the trees there AND the amount of carbon in the coarse woody debris essential for the long-term health and lasting productivity of that tract. Without balancing done well, taking trees and debris is “mining” by the current society.