Felling trees is a weapon against carbon dioxide
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.