To investigate whether bioenergy harvest and forest thinning can meet the twin goals of reducing fire risk and carbon emissions, Tara Hudiburg, Oregon State University, USA, and co-workers analysed inventory data for 80 forest types from US West Coast forests. They found that for the majority of ecoregions, the current carbon sink is sufficiently strong that it cannot be matched by substitution of fossil fuels by forest bioenergy. Fire prevention measures and large-scale bioenergy harvest could lead to 2–14 % higher emissions over the next 20 years compared with current management practices.
The situation may change, however, if the carbon sink in these regions weakens below the current level owing to insect infestations, fire emissions, or reduced primary production.
- Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production,
Tara W. Hudiburg, Beverly E. Law, Christian Wirth, Sebastiaan Luyssaert,
Nature Climate Change 2011.