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Harvested wood products and REDD+: looking beyond the forest border

Butarbutar, Tunggul, Köhl, Michael, Neupane, Prem Raj
Carbon balance and management 2016 v.11 no.1 pp. 4
biomass, carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon markets, carbon sinks, climate change, energy, forestry, forests, greenhouse gas emissions, logging, processing residues, wood
BACKGROUND: The focus of REDD+ is sensu stricto on maintaining forest carbon stocks. We extend the scope of sustainable management of forest from forests to timber utilization, and study carbon offsets resulting from the utilization of harvested timber for bio energy or harvested wood products (HWPs). The emission budget of harvesting operations depends on the loss of standing biomass by timber extracted from the forest site and logging losses on the one side, and on the other on the wood end use and the utilization of processing residues. We develop two scenarios to quantify the magnitude of CO₂ emissions by (1) energetic utilization, and (2) energetic and material utilization of harvested timber and compare the substitution effects for different fossil energy sources. RESULTS: The direct energetic use of harvested timber does not compensate for the losses of forest carbon stock. Logging residuals and displacement factors reflecting different wood use constitute by far the most important factor in potential emission reductions. Substitution effects resulting from energetic use of mill residuals and from HWPs have only a subordinated contribution to the total emissions as well as the type of fossil fuel utilized to quantify substitution effects. Material substitution effects associated with harvested wood products show a high potential to increase the climate change benefits. CONCLUSIONS: The observation and perception of REDD+ should not be restricted to sustainable management and reduced impact logging practices in the forest domain but should be extended to the utilization of extracted timber. Substitution effects from material and energetic utilization of harvested timber result in considerable emission reductions, which can compensate for the loss of forest carbon, and eventually contribute to the overall climate change mitigation benefits from forestry sector.