Felling trees is a weapon against car­bon diox­ide

Australian Forests and Timber - - BIOENERGY -

WE LIVE in a world dom­i­nated by coal and our big­gest weapon is bio­fuel. So said Pekka Kauppi, re­searcher at the Univer­sity of Helsinki, Fin­land, when he spoke at the World Bioenergy con­fer­ence at Elmia in Jönköping, Swe­den.

But how much bio­fuel ac­tu­ally is there?

Kauppi and his fel­low re­searchers have found the an­swer – bio­fuel from prop­erly man­aged forests is a never-end­ing re­source.

“In Fin­land and Swe­den felling is be­ing done at a sta­ble high level,” he said. “The area of forested land has not in­creased but there is still more for­est to­day than there’s been for a long time. That sur­prised us.”

This in­crease in vol­ume is mostly be­cause there are now more trees with thicker trunks, so the vol­ume per hectare has in­creased for a num­ber of years. Why this is, the re­searchers can’t say. Higher tem­per­a­tures and more car­bon diox­ide in the air en­cour­age growth but this is not the whole ex­pla­na­tion.

“One im­por­tant rea­son is we have an in­dus­try that de­pends on good growth,” Kauppi said.

He pointed out that other coun­tries have re­duced their own felling lev­els but still not in­creased their vol­umes of stand­ing tim­ber like Fin­land and Swe­den. The fu­ture lies not in sav­ing trees but in felling them with care, re­plant­ing, and man­ag­ing the forests.

The other side of the cli­mate is­sue is the car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from fos­sil fu­els. Apart from a few dips in the growth curve dur­ing the 2008 fi­nan­cial cri­sis, the trend is still strongly up­wards and shows no sign of slow­ing down.

“Bioenergy is our sharpest weapon in this war and we have to use it far more,” Pekka Kauppi con­cluded.

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