The opinion piece “The climate change mitigation effect of bioenergy from sustainably managed forests in Central Europe” by Schulze et al. (2020) argues against putting forests into conservation, concluding that managed forests can help mitigate climate change more effectively than unmanaged forests mainly due to the potential to use end of life wood products as fuel. This is alleged to produce “emission savings” by substituting diesel or other energy use. However, we question some of the assumptions upon which this conclusion is based.
Schulze et al.'s conclusion of a 10× factor for climate mitigation in managed forests depends on carbon accounting sleight of hand
Few dispute that harvested wood products may play some role in climate mitigation, but Schulze et al.'s conclusion of a 10× factor for climate mitigation in managed forests depends on carbon accounting sleight of hand (not counting biogenic emissions and not including all carbon pools), large substitution effects and not including the time difference between emissions and regeneration. Unfortunately, it is likely to be cited in support of increased harvesting by those who crave access to Europe's last remnants of untouched natural forests.
Booth, M. S., Mackey, B., & Young, V. (2020). It’s time to stop pretending burning forest biomass is carbon neutral. GCB Bioenergy, 12(12), 1036-1037.
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