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Review article - Peer-reviewed, 2018

The effects of logging residue extraction for energy on ecosystem services and biodiversity: A synthesis

Ranius, Thomas; Hamalainen, Aino; Egnell, Gustaf; Olsson, Bengt; Eklof, Karin; Stendahl, Johan; Rudolphi, Jorgen; Stens, Anna; Felton, Adam


We review the consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services from the industrial-scale extraction of logging residues (tops, branches and stumps from harvested trees and small-diameter trees from thinnings) in managed forests. Logging residue extraction can replace fossil fuels, and thus contribute to climate change mitigation. The additional biomass and nutrients removed, and soils and other structures disturbed, have several potential environmental impacts. To evaluate potential impacts on ecosystem services and biodiversity we reviewed 279 scientific papers that compared logging residue extraction with non-extraction, the majority of which were conducted in Northern Europe and North America. The weight of available evidence indicates that logging residue extraction can have significant negative effects on biodiversity, especially for species naturally adapted to sun-exposed conditions and the large amounts of dead wood that are created by large-scaled forest disturbances. Slash extraction may also pose risks for future biomass production itself, due to the associated loss of nutrients. For water quality, reindeer herding, mammalian game species, berries, and natural heritage the results were complicated by primarily negative but some positive effects, while for recreation and pest control positive effects were more consistent. Further, there are initial negative effects on carbon storage, but these effects are transient and carbon stocks are mostly restored over decadal time perspectives. We summarize ways of decreasing some of the negative effects of logging residue extraction on specific ecosystem services, by changing the categories of residue extracted, and site or forest type targeted for extraction. However, we found that suggested pathways for minimizing adverse outcomes were often in conflict among the ecosystem services assessed. Compensatory measures for logging residue extraction may also be used (e.g. ash recycling, liming, fertilization), though these may also be associated with adverse environmental impacts. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


Bioenergy; Clear-felling; Environment; Forestry; Slash; Stumps; Whole-tree harvesting

Published in

Journal of Environmental Management
2018, Volume: 209, pages: 409-425