More 'bad' news for woody biomass
Posted: October 29, 2011
Adding more fuel to the fire (remember the Mamonet study and the recently released European study- see blog article on Sept 15) that biomass harvests are not carbon neutral here comes another study showing this same conclusion.
The study entitled "Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production" release in the journal Nature Climate Change concluded that "an emphasis on bioenergy would increase carbon dioxide emissions from these forests at least 14 percent, if the efficiency of such operations is optimal." The study looked public and private forests in 19 eco-regions in Oregon, Washington and California, ranging from temperate rainforests to semi-arid woodlands.
True, the more timber and/or biomass removed the more that is removed as carbon sink. But can not more be sequestered than removed? The fact is that forests are a sink (sequester more carbon) than they release through harvest and use. Most of the forests are carbon sinks, meaning that even with existing management approaches they sequester more carbon than they release to the atmosphere.
It comes down to the extent of harvest at the landscape level. There may be an initial carbon debt but at some point it should become carbon neutral. So the question is whether the 14% more emissions for forest with optimal biomass harvests, is more or less than energy that is saved by using biomass and not fossil fuels more than offsets this loss.