Assessing the integrated climatic impacts of forestry and wood products
Managed forests serve as a store of carbon (C) and a renewable source of energy and materials. By using forest products as substitutes for fossil fuels or non-renewable materials, emissions from fossil C sources can be displaced. The efficiency of emissions displacement depends on the product, its lifecycle and the fossil-fuel based reference system that is substituted. Forest management practices have an impact on C stocks in biomass and on the annual supply of products and their mix. There are trade-offs between sequestering C stocks in forests and the climatic benefits obtained by sustainable forest harvesting and using wood products to displace fossil C emissions. This article presents an integrated, steady-state analysis comparing various equilibrium states of managed forests and wood product pools that represent sustainable long-term forestry and wood-use strategies. Two climatic indicators are used: the combined C stock in forests and wood products and the fossil C emissions displaced annually by harvested wood products. The study indicates that long-term strategies could be available that are better according to both indicators than forestry practices based on the existing silvicultural guidelines in Finland. These strategies would involve increasing the basal area and prolonging rotations to produce more sawlogs. Further, the climate benefits appear to be highest in case the sawlog supply is directed to production of long-lived materials substituting for fossil-emission and energy intensive materials and recycled after their useful life to bioenergy.
Received 20 March 2009 Accepted 27 January 2010 Published 31 December 2010