Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Closing an Open Balance: the Impact of Increased Roundwood Harvest on Forest Carbon

Version 1 : Received: 10 March 2022 / Approved: 15 March 2022 / Online: 15 March 2022 (07:23:46 CET)

How to cite: Soimakallio, S.; Böttcher, H.; Niemi, J.; Mosley, F.; Turunen, S.; Hennenberg, K.; Reise, J.; Fehrenbach, H. Closing an Open Balance: the Impact of Increased Roundwood Harvest on Forest Carbon. Preprints 2022, 2022030198 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202203.0198.v1). Soimakallio, S.; Böttcher, H.; Niemi, J.; Mosley, F.; Turunen, S.; Hennenberg, K.; Reise, J.; Fehrenbach, H. Closing an Open Balance: the Impact of Increased Roundwood Harvest on Forest Carbon. Preprints 2022, 2022030198 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202203.0198.v1).

Abstract

Fossil-based emissions can be avoided through using wood in place of non-renewable raw materials as energy and materials. However, increasing wood harvest influences forest carbon stocks. This effect may reduce the overall climate benefit of wood use significantly but is widely overlooked. We carried out a systematic review of simulation studies and compared differences in forest carbon and amount of wood harvested between more and less intensive wood harvest scenarios for three different time perspectives; short (1-30 years), mid (31-70 years) and long (71-100 years). Out of more than 450 reviewed studies 44 provided adequate data. Our results show that increased harvesting reduced carbon stocks over 100 years in temperate and boreal forests roughly 1.6 (stdev 0.9) tC per tC harvested. The value proved to be robust when outliers explicitly influenced by other factors than change in harvest rate, such as increase in fertilization or forest area, were removed. Interestingly, no significant difference in carbon impacts was found for average values of boreal and temperate forests or between short and long time-horizons. However, impacts tend to be greatest in the mid-term. This carbon balance indicator that we estimated can be interpreted as carbon debit of wood harvest in forests. It is significant compared with the typical GHG credits in technosphere generated by avoiding fossil emissions in substitution and increase in carbon storage in harvested wood products, and should not be ignored. Our estimates provide default values that can directly be included in GHG balances of products or assessment of mitigation policies and measures related to wood use. However, more systematic scenarios and transparent data in which different factors influencing forest carbon stocks are separately studied are clearly required to provide better constrained estimates for specific forest types.

Keywords

forest carbon; carbon stock; roundwood harvest; climate change mitigation; life cycle assessment; scenarios; modelling

Subject

EARTH SCIENCES, Environmental Sciences

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