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Research article2017Peer reviewedOpen access

Transient trade-off between climate benefit and biodiversity loss of harvesting stumps for bioenergy

Snall, Tord; Johansson, Victor; Jonsson, Mari; Ortiz, Carina; Hammar, Torun; Caruso, Alexandro; Svensson, Mans; Stendahl, Johan


To replace fossil fuel and thereby mitigate climate change, harvesting of wood such as stumps for bioenergy will likely increase. Coarse deadwood is an important resource for biodiversity and stumps comprise the main part of the coarse deadwood in managed forests. We provide the first integrated analysis of the long-term climate and biodiversity impacts of a whole landscape. We simultaneously project climate and biodiversity impacts of harvesting stumps to substitute for fossil coal, assuming scenarios with different proportions of the landscape with stump harvest (10, 50, 80%) the coming 50years. A life cycle approach was used to calculate future global temperature changes and future metapopulation changes in six epixylic lichens. Metapopulation dynamics were projected using colonization and extinction models based on times series data. Harvesting stumps from 50% of the clear-cut forest land benefits climate with a net global temperature reduction >0.5.10(-9)Kha(-1) after 50years if assuming substitution of fossil coal. For all scenarios, using stump bioenergy leads to immediate (within 1year) reductions in temperature of >= 50% compared to using fossil coal, increasing to 70% reduction after 50 years. However, large-scale stump harvest inflicted substantial metapopulation declines for five of six lichens. High stump harvest levels (>= 50%) put common lichens at risk of becoming red-listed following the IUCN criteria. The net temperature reduction (cooling effect) from substituting fossil coal with stumps harvested for bioenergy increased over time, while lichen metapopulations stabilized at lower equilibria after two to three decades. This indicates that trade-offs between climate and metapopulations of commons species are transient, where climate benefits become more prevalent in the long term. As both objectives are important for meeting (inter-)national climate and biodiversity targets, integrated analyses such as this should be encouraged and urged to guide policymaking about large-scale implementation of stump harvest.


deadwood; epixylic lichens; harvest residues; life cycle assessment; metapopulation dynamics; net global temperature change

Published in

GCB Bioenergy
2017, Volume: 9, number: 12, pages: 1751-1763