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Impacts of logging residue and stump removal on nitrogen export to a stream: A modelling approach

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The use of forest chips for energy can decrease net carbon emissions to the atmosphere, but harvesting logging residues and stumps may have adverse effects on the environment, including changes in nutrient export to water-bodies. The aim of this study was, with the aid of a computer model, to simulate the effects of logging residue and stump removal on nitrogen (N) export from a clear-cut area to a stream. A spatially semi-distributed FEMMA ecosystem model (tool for Forestry Environmental Management) was used to simulate N export from a catchment subject to clear-cutting and four different scenarios of logging residue and stump removal. These scenarios were compared with a conventional clear-cutting scenario, where the logging residues were left on site. Simulations suggested that the logging residue recovery does not decrease N export to the stream. In the model this was explained by a decrease in microbial immobilization, which in the case of conventional clear-cutting reduces net release of N in decomposition and mitigates the export of N. The decrease in immobilization is directly related to the removal of the woody debris from the site. Simulations suggested that harvesting of logging residues in low atmospheric N-deposition areas is not an effective strategy for reducing N loads in water-bodies.
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Keywords: Clear-cutting; FEMMA model; forest energy; nitrogen load; wood fuel

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Metla (Finnish Forest Research Institute), Joensuu Unit, Joensuu, Finland 2: Department of Forest Ecology, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland 3: Laboratory of Water Resources, Helsinki University of Technology, Helsinki, Finland 4: Faculty of Forestry, University of Joensuu, Joensuu, Finland

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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