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Emergy Synthesis of Intensive Eucalyptus Cultivation in São Paolo, Brazil

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We used environmental accounting to evaluate high-intensity clonal eucalyptus production in São Paolo, Brazil, converting inputs (environmental, material, and labor) to emergy units so ecological efficiency could be compared on a common basis. Input data were compiled under three pH management scenarios (lime, ash, and sludge). The dominant emergy input is environmental work (transpired water, 58% of total emergy), followed by diesel (15%); most purchased emergy is invested during harvest (41.8% of 7-year production totals). Where recycled materials are used for pH amendment (ash or sludge instead of lime), we observe marked improvements in ecological efficiency; lime (raw) yielded the highest unit emergy value (UEV = emergy per unit energy in the product = 9.6E + 03 sej J−1), whereas using sludge and ash (recycled) reduced the UEV to 8.9E + 03 and 8.8E + 03 sej J−1, respectively. The emergy yield ratio was similarly affected, suggesting better ecological return on energy invested. Sensitivity of resource use to other operational modifications (e.g., decreased diesel, labor, or agrochemicals) was small (<3% change). Emergy synthesis permits comparison of sustainability among forest production systems globally. This eucalyptus scheme shows the highest ecological efficiency of analyzed pulp production operations (UEV range = 1.1 to 3.6E + 04 sej J−1) despite high operational intensity.

Keywords: biomass production; emergy; environmental accounting; pulpwood; sustainability

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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