Carbon Balance Implications of Forest Biomass Production Potential

Detta är en avhandling från Östersund : Mid Sweden University

Sammanfattning: Forests in boreal and temperate forest-ecosystems have importance for carbonbalance since they sequester large amount of atmospheric carbon by uptake ofcarbon-dioxide during photosynthesis, and transfer and store carbon in the forestecosystem. Forest material can be used for bio-fuel purposes and substitute fossilfuels, and supply wood products, which can replace carbon-and-energy-intensivematerials. Therefore it is vital to consider the role of forests regarding today´s aimto mitigate climate change. This thesis assess (i) how climate change affects futureforest carbon balance, (ii) the importance of different strategies for forestmanagement systems, and biomass production for the carbon balance, (iii) how theuse of forest production affect the total carbon balance in a lifecycle perspective,and (iv) how the Swedish carbon balance is affected from the standpoint of boththe actual use of forest raw material within Sweden and what Swedish forestryexports. The analysis was made mainly in a long-term perspective (60-300 years) toillustrate the importance of temporal and also the spatial perspective, as theanalysis includes stand level, landscape level, and national level.In this thesis, forestry was considered a system. All activities, from forestregeneration to end use of forest products, were entities of this system. In theevaluation, made from a systems perspective, we used life-cycle analysis toestimate carbon stock in different system flows. Different forest managementsystems and forest production were integrated in the analyses. Different forestmanagement scenarios were designed for the Swedish forest management incombination with the effect of future climate change; (i) intensive forest practiceaiming at increased growth, (ii) increased forest set-aside areas, changes in forestmanagement systems for biomass production, and (iii) how the use of forestproducts affect the total carbon balance (construction material, bioenergy and otherdomestic use).The results showed that future climate changes and intensive forest managementwith increased production could increase the biomass production and the potentialuse of forest raw material. This has a positive effect on carbon stock change in theforest biomass, litter production and below ground carbon stock and help reducingcarbon-dioxide emissions. Increased forest set-aside areas can increase the shorttermcarbon stock in forest ecosystems, but will reduce the total long-term carbonbalance. The net carbon balance for clear-cut forestry did not differ significantlyfrom continuous-cover forestry, but was rather a question of level of growth. Mostimportant, in the long term, was according to our analysis, how forest raw materialis used. Present Swedish forestry and use of forest raw material, both withinSweden and abroad, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change.The positive effect for the total carbon balance and climate benefit mostly takeplace abroad, due to the Swedish high level of export of wood products and thehigher substitution effects achieved outside Swedish borders. One strategy is toincrease production, harvest and use Swedish forest raw material to replace morecarbon intensive material, which can contribute to significant emission reduction.Carbon-dioxide mitigation, as a result of present Swedish forestry, was shown tobe almost of the same level as the total yearly emission of greenhouse gases. Thetotal carbon benefit would increase if the biomass production and felling increasedand if Swedish wood products replaced carbon intensive materials.This thesis shows also that, by changing forest management, increase thegrowth and the use of forest raw material and export of forest material we cancontribute to even larger climate benefits. In a long-term perspective, thesubstitution effects and replacement of carbon-and energy-intensive materials areof greater significance than carbon storage effects in forests. A more productionoriented forestry needs to make balances and increase the prerequisite forbiological diversity, improve recreation possibilities, and protect sensitive landareas and watersheds.Climate benefits, from Swedish forestry, are highly dependent on policydecision-making and how that can steer the direction for the Swedish forestry.