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Forest Harvests and Wood Products: Sources and Sinks of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

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Changes in the net carbon (C) sink-source balance related to a country's forest harvesting and use of wood products is an important component in making country-level inventories of greenhouse gas emissions, a current activity within many signatory nations to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We propose two approaches for estimating national C inventories from forest harvesting and wood product utilization (excluding forest regrowth): the atmospheric-flow method and the stock-change method. The former has the atmosphere as its system of interest and counts all flows to and from the atmosphere for a particular country. The latter looks at a country's forest and wood product C stocks and how they change over time. Here we develop these two methods, and estimate national C source-sink balance from the readily available FAO global forest products database for countries, regions, and the world. Both methods gave a worldwide estimated source of 980 Tg of C in 1990 as a result of forest harvests and wood product utilization; about 60% came from developing countries and 40% from developed countries. Estimates (Tg C) for selected developing countries for the atmospheric-flow/stock-change method were: Brazil, 72/73; India, 81/80; Indonesia, 53/56; and Ivory Coast, 3.9/4.3; and for selected developed countries (again atmospheric-flow/stock-change method): Canada, 36/50; Finland, 8.8/13; New Zealand, 2.7/3.4; and United States 141/138. Net wood exporters show lower numbers in the atmospheric-flow method, net wood importers in the stock-change method. Among the variables that most consistently and strongly affected C emissions for a given country in 1990 were: roundwood production, slash left to oxidize, and commodity wood put into uses ≥ 5 yr. We conclude with a discussion that shows how choosing either one of the two methods for wood harvest accounting has potential policy implications or impacts on the incentives or disincentives to use wood. For. Sci. 44(2):272-284.
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Keywords: Carbon balance; atmospheric-flow method; commodities; fuelwood; greenhouse gas inventory; roundwood; stock-change method

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Joanneum Research, Institute of Energy Research, Elisabethstrasse 11, A-8010 Graz, Austria--Phone: +43/316/876-340, Fax: +43/316/876-320

Publication date: 01 May 1998

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