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Logging offsets green efforts made by wood for biofuel, study finds

Logging offsets green efforts made by wood for biofuel, study finds
Wood for biofuel has unintended effect of carbon emissions

A new study regarding using wood for biofuel found that carbon dioxide released from logging offsets the green efforts made by using the clean fuel.

The study, titled “Mineral soil carbon fluxes in forests and implications for carbon balance assessment,” revealed that using wood for biofuel harvested through logging actually releases vast amounts of carbon that is stored in the deep forest soil, contributing more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than what biofuel from wood could be saving.

“Our paper suggests that increased reliance on wood may have the unintended effect of increasing the transfer of carbon from the mineral soil to the atmosphere,” said co-author Andrew Friedland, a professor in Dartmouth. “So the intended goal of reducing carbon in the atmosphere may not be met.”

The results of the study brings to light the inadequacy of current analysis on carbon stored in the forest, and that any analysis must include deep soil to be complete as it stores more than 50 percent of carbon in the forest soils. Atmospheric studies done at present do not consider carbon in deep soil in the belief that the greenhouse gas is undisturbed during timber harvesting.

Wood for biomass accounts for around 75 percent of the total biofuel production, because of its implications, Professor Friedland pointed out that a deeper understanding of forest carbon cycles is needed to mitigate climate change.

Currently, various bodies such as the International Tropical Timber Organization, Tropical Forest Foundation, and the United Nations through their initiative Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or R.E.D.D., are pushing for Reduced Impact Logging which entails careful planning and control of harvesting timber.

Practicing R.I.L. could decrease the amount of carbon emissions by reducing the impacts on forest growth, hydrogeology, and soils. It will also help increase the commercial volume of the next timber harvest by 25 percent to 75 percent by preventing unnecessary damage and promoting forest regeneration. – EcoSeed Staff

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