Whole-tree harvesting could boost biomass production

phys.org | 5/16/2018 | Staff
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Making the shift to renewable energy sources requires biomass, too.

This is a story of carbon choices: As societies around the world continue to move toward increased renewable energy portfolios, which energy sources do we choose?

US - Coal - Plants - Carbon - Dioxide

In the U.S., coal plants are closing, but carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere continues to rise. Pivoting toward renewable energy sources like wind, solar and biofuels is a necessary step toward halting the worst effects of climate change. Forest biomass is expected to be one of the key energy sources, but many people have wondered how to feed biofuel plants the materials they need without destroying forest resources.

Whole-tree aspen logging promotes renewable biomass energy from tops and branches, parts of the tree that are often left in the forest during logging in favor of the tree's trunk, using the residual that remains after a sustainable harvest for logs. It has long been assumed that removing the leaves and branches of trees, rather than allowing them to decompose in the woods, will deplete the soil and lead to a weaker forest ecosystem. New research from Michigan Technological University's School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science challenges that hypothesis.

Energy - Development - Decisions - Assumptions - Robert

"Many far-reaching energy development decisions have been made based on assumptions," said Robert E. Froese, associate professor and director of the Ford Center and Forest.

Froese, Michael I. Premer—who earned his doctorate in quantitative silviculture at Michigan Tech and now works as a research silviculturist for Rayonier—and Eric D. Vance, who recently retired from the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement, Inc., have recently published "Whole-tree harvest and residue recovery in commercial aspen: Implications to forest growth and soil productivity across a rotation" in the journal Forest Ecology and Management. It is the third of a series of related articles about logging residue in managed aspen forests in Michigan's...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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