Life cycle inventory for currently harvested birch roundwood

Abstract

Life cycle assessment is a valuable tool for evaluating the environmental performance of different products and services. According to the European Commission, forests are indispensable and the most effective strategy for climate change mitigation, although raw wood products (roundwood, pulpwood and fuelwood) are not carbon neutral as previously thought because of the human activities during forest management processes. Apart from climate change, the production of raw wood products also contribute to other environmental impact categories. Previous studies have shown that the life cycle inventory (LCI) data for raw wood products should be collected from the site-specific not from more generic sources because of the significant differences in several geography- and technology-dependent factors. However, less discussed are time-dependent factors, which should also be acknowledged especially because of the long growing time of trees. By analysis of the forest management history, the main objective of the presented study was to determine which forest management activities were performed during the growth phase of currently harvested birch (Betula spp.) roundwood in Latvia and, based on these results compile the LCI. The results of the forest management history analysis showed that for currently produced birch roundwood only logging operations should be considered in the LCI. Subsystems such as seed production, seedling production and silvicultural operations were not practiced or had only minor impact due to low mechanization level in the past. By taking into account the time-dependent factors (forest management practice, technology, legislation and composition of used chemicals), the LCI was developed and can be used in further calculations of environmental impacts for different wood-based products that are manufactured from currently harvested birch roundwood in Latvia.

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Acknowledegments

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support by the European Regional Development Fund project No. 1.1.1.1/16/A/133.

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Correspondence to Edgars Kuka.

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Kuka, E., Cirule, D., Andersone, I. et al. Life cycle inventory for currently harvested birch roundwood. Eur. J. Wood Prod. 78, 859–870 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00107-020-01544-7

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