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Wood Fuel or Carbon Sink? Aspects of Forestry in the Climate Question

Even Bjørnstad () and Anders Skonhoft ()

Environmental & Resource Economics, 2002, vol. 23, issue 4, 447-465

Abstract: This paper discusses and contrasts two mainroles of forestry in light of the debate on theglobal climate. As the main problem is relatedto the increases of the CO 2 -concentrationin the atmosphere, forests may be viewed aspart of the alleviation of the problem throughtheir function as (i) a source of biomass forenergy production, which may replace fossilfuels and thus indirectly reduceCO 2 -emissions, and as (ii) carbon storage,since a growing forest extracts atmosphericCO 2 and fixes it as carbon in biomass. Inthe Scandinavian forestry, logging residues areincreasingly being used for energy production.In this paper the value of forests as a sourceof bioenergy is added to the traditional timbervalue. Formulated as a joint production modelwithin the Faustmann framework, the effect ofthis addition on the optimal rotation length isdiscussed. Based on data for spruce, thedominant species in the Scandinavian forestry,it is demonstrated that the rotation length isshortened compared to the standard Faustmannmodel. Shorter rotation length implies lesscarbon storage. Therefore, in this modelwithout explicit regard to the social carbonstorage value of the forest, the gains in termsof the climate problem from utilisation offorest biomass for energy production are beingdiminished by the value of reduced carbonstorage. The carbon value of the forest is thenadded to complete the model, with the effect ofincreasing the rotation length, a result thatis well known in the literature. Finally, theempirical effects of the interaction of thesetwo climate-related value elements of theforest are discussed. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Keywords: bioenergy; climate; forestry; joint production (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2002
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DOI: 10.1023/A:1021379306349

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