Current issue: 53(3)
Under compilation: 53(4)
Understanding the characteristics of unutilized biomass resources, such as small-diameter trees from biomass-dense thinning forests (BDTF) (non-commercially-thinned forests), can provide important information for developing a bio-based economy. The aim of this study was to describe the areal distribution, characteristics (biomass of growing stock, tree height, etc.) and harvesting potential of BDTF in Sweden. A national forest inventory plot dataset was imported into a geographical information system and plots containing BDTF were selected by applying increasingly stringent constraints. Results show that, depending on the constraints applied, BDTF covers 9–44% (2.1–9.8 M ha) of the productive forest land area, and contains 7–34% of the total growing stock (119–564 M OD t), with an average biomass density of 57 OD t ha–1. Of the total BDTF area, 65% is located in northern Sweden and 2% corresponds to set-aside farmlands. Comparisons with a study from 2008 indicate that BDTF area has increased by at least 4% (about 102 000 ha), in line with general trends for Sweden and Europe. Analyses revealed that the technical harvesting potential of delimbed stemwood (over bark, including tops) from BDTF ranges from 3.0 to 6.1 M OD t yr–1 (7.5 to 15.1 M m3 yr–1), while the potential of whole-tree harvesting ranges from 4.3 to 8.7 M OD t yr–1 (10.2 to 20.6 M m3 yr–1) depending on the scenario considered. However, further technological developments of the harvest and supply systems are needed to utilize the full potential of BDTF.
This paper analyses the nutrient loses caused by whole-tree harvesting on the basis of the literature data. It has been considered that traditional stemwood harvesting does not lead to impoverishment of the soil because the nutrient content of the wood is quite low. The nutrient loss occurring in connection with heavy thinnings and whole-tree harvesting has been considered so great that it has to be compensated by fertilizer application. In comparison with harvesting unbarked stem timber, whole-tree harvesting has been found to increase the nutrient loss at the stage of final cutting as follows: N2 to 4 times, P 2 to 5 times, K 1.5 to 3.5 times and Ca 1.5 to 2.5 times. Depending on the conditions prevailing on the site, any one of these nutrients may be the limiting factor for tree growth during the next tree generation
The PDF includes a summary in Finnish.