Assessing the net atmospheric impacts of wood production and utilization

  • Antti KilpeläinenEmail author
  • Harri Strandman
  • Seppo Kellomäki
  • Jyri Seppälä
Original Article


The main objective of the study was to calculate net atmospheric impacts for wood production and utilization in Finnish boreal forest conditions. Net atmospheric impacts were calculated by comparing net CO2 exchanges of the wood production and utilization to the reference management regime. Net CO2 exchanges were simulated with a life cycle assessment (LCA) tool for a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) stand (MT, Myrtillys-type) in central Finland (Joensuu region, 62°39 N, 29°37 E) over two consecutive rotation periods (100 + 100 years/200 years). Net atmospheric impacts were calculated both for sawn timber and pulpwood, and expressed in kgCO2m−3. According to the results, the production of pulp and sawn timber produced emissions of 0.20 and 0.59 kgCO2m−3 over the 200-year period, respectively, when the unmanagement regime was used as the reference management regime. When 50 % of the processing waste of timber was accounted as an instant emission to the atmosphere, the atmospheric impact increased to 0.55 kgCO2m−3 in pulpwood and to 1.27 kgCO2m−3 in sawn timber over the 200 year period. When turnover rates of sawn timber in the technosystem were decreased by 30 % and the share of energy use was decreased to 30 %, the atmospheric impact decreased by 17 % and 4 % for pulpwood and sawn timber, respectively, compared to the default wood degradation and energy use of 50 %. The utilized LCA approach provided an effective tool for approaching net atmospheric impacts originating from the ecosystem carbon (C) flows and variable wood utilization. Taking the ecosystem production and utilization of wood (i.e. degradation of technosystem C stock) into account, in terms of net CO2 exchange, the mitigation possibilities of wood compared to other products can be accounted for more precisely in the future and C sequestration credited more specifically for a certain wood product.


Biomass C dioxide Forest ecosystem Life cycle assessment Timber Wood 



This work was funded through the project "C sequestration in climate impact assessment of wood construction" of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. The work was also funded through the project "Sustainable bioenergy, climate change and health", based on the strategic funding of the University of Eastern Finland.


  1. Alam A, Kilpeläinen A, Kellomäki S (2008) Impacts of thinning on growth, timber production and C stocks in Finland under changing climate. Scand J For Res 23:501–512CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alam A, Kilpeläinen A, Kellomäki S (2010) Potential energy wood production with implications to timber recovery and C stocks under varying thinning and climate scenarios in Finland. BioEnergy Research 3:362–372CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Alam A, Kilpeläinen A, Kellomäki S (2012a) Impacts of initial stand density and thinning regimes on energy wood production and management-related CO2 emissions in boreal ecosystems. Eur J For Res 131(3):655–667CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Alam A, Kellomäki S, Kilpeläinen A, Strandman H (2012b) Effects of stump extraction on the C sequestration in Norway spruce forest ecosystems under varying thinning regimes with implications for fossil fuel substitution. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. Early view. doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12010
  5. Cherubini F, Strømman AH (2011) Life cycle assessment of bioenergy systems: state of the art and future challenges. Biosource Technology 102:437–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Daigneault A, Sohngen B, Sedjo R (2012) Economic approach to assess the forest C implications of biomass energy. Environ Sci Technol 46:5664–5671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gustavsson L, Sathre R (2010) Energy and CO2 analysis of wood substitution in construction. Clim Chang 105:129–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gustavsson L, Pingoud K, Sathre R (2006) C dioxide balance of wood substitution: comparing concrete- and wood-framed buildings. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Chang 11:667–691CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hynynen J, Ojansuu R, Hökkä H, Siipilehto J, Salminen H, Haapala P (2002) Models for predicting stand development in MELA System. Finnish Forest Research Institute, Research Papers 835, 116 pGoogle Scholar
  10. IPCC (2007) Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. [Solomon S, D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 996 pGoogle Scholar
  11. Karjalainen T, Kellomäki S, Pussinen A (1994) Role of wood-based products in absorbing atmospheric C. Silva Fennica 28:67–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kellomäki S, Väisänen H, Hänninen H, Kolström T, Lauhanen R, Mattila U, Pajari B (1992) A simulation model for the succession of the boreal forest ecosystem. Silva Fennica 26:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kellomäki S, Peltola H, Nuutinen T, Korhonen K, Strandman H (2008) Sensitivity of managed boreal forests in Finland to climate change, with implications for adaptive management. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 363:2341–2351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kilpeläinen A, Strandman H, Alam A, Kellomäki S (2011) Life cycle assessment tool for estimating net CO2 exchange of forest production. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 3(6):461–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kilpeläinen A, Kellomäki S, Strandman H (2012) Net atmospheric impacts of forest bioenergy production and utilization in Finnish boreal conditions. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 4(6):811–817CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kolström M (1998) Ecological simulation model for studying diversity of stand structure in boreal forests. Ecological Modeling 111:17–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lippke B, Wilson J, Meil J, Taylor A (2010) Characterizing the importance of C stored in wood products. Wood and Fiber Science 42:5–14Google Scholar
  18. Lippke B, Oneil E, Harrison R, Skog K, Gustavsson L, Sathre R (2011) Life cycle impacts of forest management and wood utilization on C mitigation: knowns and unknowns. C Management 2(3):303–333Google Scholar
  19. Manomet Center for Conservation Science, “Biomass Sustainability and C Policy Study,” Manomet Center for Conservation Science, Manomet, 2010. Available at:
  20. PAS 2050 (2011) Specification for the assessment of the life cycle GHG emissions of goods and services. BSI, London, United Kingdom, 38 pGoogle Scholar
  21. Peltola A (2005) Metsätilastollinen vuosikirja (Finnish Statistical Yearbook of Forestry). Finnish Forest Research Institute. 418 p. (in Finnish)Google Scholar
  22. Pingoud K, Schlamadinger B, Grönkvist S, Brown S, Cowie A, Marland G (2004) Approaches for inclusion of harvested wood products in future GHG inventories under the UNFCCC, and their consistency with the overall UNFCCC inventory reporting framework. IEA Bioenergy. Task 38 Greenhouse Gas Balances of Biomass and Bioenergy Systems.
  23. Puettmann ME, Wilson JB (2005) Life-cycle analysis of wood products: cradle-to-gate LCI of residential wood building materials. Wood Fiber Science 37:18–29Google Scholar
  24. Puettmann ME, Bergman R, Hubbard S, Johnson L, Lippke B, Oneil E, Wagner FG (2010) Cradle-to-gate life-cycle inventory of US wood products production: CORRIM phase 1 and phase 2 products. Wood Fiber Science 42:15–28Google Scholar
  25. Routa J, Kellomäki S, Kilpeläinen A, Peltola H, Strandman H (2011a) Effects of forest management on the C dioxide emissions of wood energy in integrated production of timber and energy biomass. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 3:483–497CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Routa J, Kellomäki S, Peltola H (2011b) Impacts of intensive management and landscape structure on timber and energy wood production and net CO2 emissions from energy wood use of Norway spruce. Bioenergy Research 5(1):106–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. RTS (2010) RT Environmental declaration, Sawn timber. Puuinfo Oy, Helsinki, Finland, 2pGoogle Scholar
  28. Sathre R, O’Connor J (2010) A synthesis of research on wood products and greenhouse gas impacts. Technical Report TR-19R, FPInnovations, Forintek Division, Vancouver, B.C., Canada. 117 pGoogle Scholar
  29. Scharai-Rad M, Welling J (2002) Environmental and energy balances of wood products and substitutes. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, FAO, Rome, Italy, 70pGoogle Scholar
  30. Sipi M (2002) Puutuoteteollisuus 5. Sahatavaratuotanto. Helsinki, Opetushallitus, 213 p. (In Finnish)Google Scholar
  31. Statistics Finland (2011) Energy consumption. Statistics Finland, Helsinki, FinlandGoogle Scholar
  32. Talkkari A, Hypén H (1996) Development and assessment of a gap-type model to predict the effects of climate change on forests based on spatial forest data. Forest Ecol Manage 83:217–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Tamminen P (1991) Expression of soil nutrient status and regional variation in soil fertility of forested sites in southern Finland. Folia Forestalia 777Google Scholar
  34. Tapio (2006) Hyvän metsänhoidon suositukset (Recommendations for forest management. Metsätalouden kehittämiskeskus Tapio, Metsäkustannus Oy, 100p (in Finnish)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antti Kilpeläinen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Harri Strandman
    • 2
  • Seppo Kellomäki
    • 2
  • Jyri Seppälä
    • 3
  1. 1.Finnish Environment Institute, Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production, Environmental Performance UnitJoensuuFinland
  2. 2.Faculty of Science and Forestry, School of Forest SciencesUniversity of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Environment Institute, Centre for Sustainable Consumption and ProductionHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations