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Does Wood Bioenergy Increase Carbon Stocks in Forests?

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Wood bioenergy is touted as carbon neutral because biological regrowth recaptures the carbon released in energy production. However, some argue that using wood as an energy feedstock will result in decreased forest stocks and thereby a net reduction of carbon sequestered by forests. Such arguments fail to recognize that increased demand for wood bioenergy could increase stocks of wood, a renewable resource. We address the carbon neutrality question using a dynamic optimization forest management model to examine the effect of increasing or decreasing wood bioenergy demand on an existing forest, both in the amount of carbon lost by harvests and in that captured by forest management adjustments that change forest stocks under various wood demand and land supply scenarios. The results suggest for a managed regulated forest using foresight, an anticipated substantial increase in future wood biomass demand will not reduce forest and forest carbon stocks, but rather will increase the forest and forest carbon, thus being somewhat self-regulating.
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Keywords: carbon; carbon neutrality; forest; harvests; rational expectations; wood bioenergy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

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    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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