Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla
Press release 28.08.2008

Sustainable use of forest biomass for energy:
Cool research data for heated energy debate

Metla’s bioenergy researchers are the main writers in the publication “Sustainable use of Forest Biomass for Energy – A Synthesis with Focus on the Baltic and Nordic region”, which has been published by Springer as part of the famous “Managing Forest Ecosystems” series.

The focus of the book makes it particularly applicable to the forestry and forest ecosystems of the Baltic and Nordic countries.

The articles discuss the various energy reserves available from the forest, weigh up the short term and long term impacts of production, and explore the opportunities and risks involved in using wood ash.

The publication also includes a review of recommendations relating to the harvesting of biomass in the European context. It introduces a new soil classification system by which a forest professional will be able to decide whether to collect the biomass remaining from tree fellings or to leave it in the forest. The impact of insect damage is investigated, and the reader is presented with clear recommendations regarding how timber could be stored, for example by the roadside. Economic aspects and procedures for the harvesting of forest biomass are assessed, from the viewpoints both of the forest owner and of society.

It is difficult to assess the many impacts of harvesting forest energy by a common yardstick. For this reason, a calculation model has been developed in this project which can be used to examine e.g. nutrient losses, changes in growth caused by these, and the economic result of energy harvesting from the viewpoint of the forest owner. The operation of the model and some sample calculations are described.

The book also assesses the current practical guidelines for harvesting wood for energy in different countries. Additional research is needed, particularly on the long term effects of extracting stumps. Even though many questions relating to the harvesting of forest biomass still remain unanswered, this publication offers the latest research data on the topic. The book is a unique and much-needed tool for forestry professionals - both for scientific workers and researchers, and for forest owners.

For the international research project “Wood for energy – a contribution to the sustainable development of sustainable forest management (Wood-En-Man)”, which is financed by the EU, a group of top researchers was put together from the bioenergy team of Metla’s Vantaa, Joensuu and Kannus operating units and from Estonia, Denmark, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden.

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