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Evaluation of forest operations in Spanish eucalypt plantations under a life cycle assessment perspective

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The forest is an essential natural resource providing multiple benefits to people. However, forests face several environmental problems created by modern industrial society such as acidification, eutrophication and global warming. This study investigated the environmental loads associated with the Spanish forest sector, where this activity plays an important role in socioeconomic development. A Eucalyptus globulus plantation located in north-western Spain was considered as a case study. Forest operations were divided into three subsystems: silvicultural operations, logging operations and secondary hauling. The results showed that logging operations consume more energy than any other part of the wood supply chain, with a remarkable contribution in the potential impact categories of global warming, acidification and photochemical oxidant formation. Transportation of timber from forest landing to industrial sites (secondary hauling) is the second most important energy user. Silvicultural operations made an important contribution to eutrophication, mainly due to phosphorus-based fertilizer application. This study will enable improved Iberian life cycle assessment studies of wood products in the absence of detailed studies for this region.
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Keywords: Energy use; Eucalyptus globulus; Spain; environmental impact; forest operations; pulpwood

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Chemical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain 2: The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk), Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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