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Bioenergy production and soil conservation from Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) plantations in Denmark

Abstract

This study analyses the trade-off between bioenergy production and soil conservation through thinning operations in Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) plantations in Denmark. Thinning operations were evaluated under different regimes and intensities for a complete rotation period of sixty years and for different site qualities (site-classes I–VI). Applying a dynamic forest growth modeling tool, evolution of forest structure was predicted to observe the potentials for biomass production and inevitable soil degradation. Results showed thinning from below, with a higher utilization (maintenance of a minimum basal area of 25 mha−1) could produce more bioenergy. However, these operations require simultaneous severe forest soil degradation. Therefore, the optimum thinning for bioenergy production under preservation constraints was thinning from above with a lower intensity (maintenance of a minimum basal area of 45 m2 ha−1). The ratio of bioenergy win (kWh) to soil-loss (mha−1) was calculated for this regime varying between 74,894 kWh m−3 in a high quality site (site-class I) and 6,516 kWh m−3 in a low quality site (site-class VI) with an average of 44,282 kWh m−3. However, this could not always preserve the highest amount of growing stock essential for natural dynamics of forest ecosystem with an exception of the low quality sites (site-class VI). Thus, when aiming at bioenergy production through thinning operations, trade-offs with soil conservation and growing stock preservation should be regarded to prevent environmental degradation.

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Acknowledgments

The author would like to expresses his gratitude to the forest growth modeling tool working group at the Department of Forest and Landscape, University of Copenhagen. This study was a part of an ongoing project entitled “MOdels for adapTIVE forest management” (MOTIVE), which is supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 226544.

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Correspondence to Rasoul Yousefpour.

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Yousefpour, R. Bioenergy production and soil conservation from Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst) plantations in Denmark. Agroforest Syst 87, 287–294 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-012-9547-z

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Keywords

  • Bioenergy
  • Soil conservation
  • Thinning
  • Site-class
  • Norway spruce