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Comparison of energy-wood and pulpwood thinning systems in young birch stands

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In early thinnings, a profitable alternative to pulpwood could be to harvest whole trees as energy-wood. In theoretical analyses, we compared the extractible volumes of energy-wood and pulpwood, and their respective gross values in differently aged stands of early birch thinnings at varying intensities of removal. In a parallel field experiment, we compared the productivity at harvest of either pulpwood or energy-wood, and the profitability when the costs of harvesting and forwarding were included. The theoretical analyses showed that the proportion of the total tree biomass removed as pulpwood increased with increasing thinning intensity and stem size. The biomass volume was 1.5–1.7 times larger than the pulpwood volume for a 13.9 diameter at breast height stand and 2.0–3.5 times larger for a 10.4 diameter at breast height stand. In the field experiment, the harvested volume per hectare of energy-wood was almost twice as high as the harvest of pulpwood. The harvesting productivity (trees Productive harvesting Work Time-hour−1) was 205 in the energy-wood and 120 in the pulpwood treatment. The pulpwood treatment generated a net loss, whereas the energy-wood treatment generated a net income, the average difference being €595 ha−1. We conclude that in birch-dominated early thinning stands, at current market prices, harvesting energy-wood is more profitable than harvesting pulpwood.
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Keywords: Efficiency; bioenergy; economy; field study; fuel wood; time consumption

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Forest Resource Management,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SkogsmarksgrändUmeå, Sweden 2: Södra, SkogsuddenVäxjö, Sweden

Publication date: 2011-08-01

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