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Harvesting Carbon from Eastern US Forests: Opportunities and Impacts of an Expanding Bioenergy Industry
Department of Plant Biology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61820, USA
Energy Biosciences Institute, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61820, USA
Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institute for Science, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
Environmental Defense Fund, Boston, MA 02108, USA
Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80521, USA
Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Energy Biosciences Institute, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA
Department of Crop Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61820, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 March 2012; in revised form: 26 May 2012 / Accepted: 8 June 2012 / Published: 19 June 2012
Abstract: Eastern forests of the US are valued both as a carbon sink and a wood resource. The amount of biomass that can be harvested sustainably from this biome for bioenergy without compromising the carbon sink is uncertain. Using past literature and previously validated models, we assessed four scenarios of biomass harvest in the eastern US: partial harvests of mixed hardwood forests, pine plantation management, short-rotation woody cropping systems, and forest residue removal. We also estimated the amount and location of abandoned agricultural lands in the eastern US that could be used for biomass production. Greater carbon storage was estimated to result from partial harvests and residue removals than from plantation management and short-rotation cropping. If woody feedstocks were cultivated with a combination of intensive management on abandoned lands and partial harvests of standing forest, we estimate that roughly 176 Tg biomass y−1 (~330,000 GWh or ~16 billion gallons of ethanol) could be produced sustainably from the temperate forest biome of the eastern US. This biomass could offset up to ~63 Tg C y−1 that are emitted from fossil fuels used for heat and power generation while maintaining a terrestrial C sink of ~8 Tg C y−1.
Keywords: biofuel; woody biomass; forest management; residue; logging; temperate forest; sustainability; CHP; greenhouse gas reduction; carbon dioxide emission; carbon sequestration
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Davis, S.C.; Dietze, M.; DeLucia, E.; Field, C.; Hamburg, S.P.; Loarie, S.; Parton, W.; Potts, M.; Ramage, B.; Wang, D.; Youngs, H.; Long, S.P. Harvesting Carbon from Eastern US Forests: Opportunities and Impacts of an Expanding Bioenergy Industry. Forests 2012, 3, 370-397.
Davis SC, Dietze M, DeLucia E, Field C, Hamburg SP, Loarie S, Parton W, Potts M, Ramage B, Wang D, Youngs H, Long SP. Harvesting Carbon from Eastern US Forests: Opportunities and Impacts of an Expanding Bioenergy Industry. Forests. 2012; 3(2):370-397.
Davis, Sarah C.; Dietze, Michael; DeLucia, Evan; Field, Chris; Hamburg, Steven P.; Loarie, Scott; Parton, William; Potts, Matthew; Ramage, Benjamin; Wang, Dan; Youngs, Heather; Long, Stephen P. 2012. "Harvesting Carbon from Eastern US Forests: Opportunities and Impacts of an Expanding Bioenergy Industry." Forests 3, no. 2: 370-397.