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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Stump harvesting for bioenergy: A review of climatic and environmental impacts in northern Europe and America

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Stump harvesting is defined as an intensification of forest management in comparison with stem‐only harvesting and removal of tops and branches. It increases soil mixing and the proportion of bare soil. In contrast to earlier hypotheses, stump harvesting was found to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide, and methane in the short term. In the long term, heterotrophic soil CO2 evolution is reduced. Both model and empirical studies indicate that stump removal can reduce the soil organic carbon (SOC) pool in the short term, but long‐term experiments (32–39 years) could not verify any SOC decline. Life cycle assessment studies showed that stumps as fuel resulted in markedly lower emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere, viewed over a whole forest rotation compared to heating by natural gas and coal. Stump removal does not seem to affect timber production in the next forest rotation and often reduces the infection rate of root rot. It increases the natural regeneration of birch and pine, it can increase nitrate leaching at N‐rich sites, and it can increase the number of water‐filled cavities where methylmercury is formed. Stump extraction decreases the amount of dwarf shrubs in young clear‐cuts, but after 1–2 decades, these species are generally recovered. Many species dependent on dead wood are adversely affected by intense stump harvest. Model studies suggest that the risk of species extinction is small when only 10% of the total clear‐cut area in the forest landscape is stump harvested, but the risk of extinction rises at increasing extraction intensities. This article is categorized under: Bioenergy > Climate and Environment Energy and Climate > Climate and Environment Energy and Development > Climate and Environment
Mean coverage of soil disturbance types (% of total soil surface) in the treatments undisturbed (control), patch scarification (PatchS), disc trenching (DiscT), and stump harvesting (StumpH) based on data from 14 experimental sites. (Reprinted with permission from Strömgren et al. (). Copyright 2017 Taylor & Francis Ltd, www.tandfonline.com)
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Examples of population change and extinction risk over time in four fictitious, rare species occurring in only 20% of the clear‐cuts in a landscape. Stump extraction here is performed in 50% of all available clear‐cuts in this model landscape. Population declines and extinction risks were less pronounced if the bioenergy wood extraction was concentrated to only a part of the landscape (bottom graphs). (Reprinted with permission from Johansson et al. (). Copyright 2016 Elsevier)
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Species accumulation curve showing changes in species richness of wood‐living beetles at a 6 ha clear‐cut with a stump volume of 48 m3. A species loss of 25% can be expected when 75% of the stumps are extracted. The downward slope of the curve increases rapidly with increasing stump extraction intensity above that level, leading to a rapid species loss. The gray zone indicates the uncertainty (95% confidence interval) in the calculation. (Reprinted with permission from Work et al. (). Copyright 2016 Elsevier)
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Relative volume growth in Swedish and Finnish experiments after 24–36 years of Scots pine and Norway spruce planted after stump harvest (filled symbols) or stump and slash harvest (open symbols) in relation to control plots (100%, dashed line), where only the stemwood was harvested, and the seedlings were planted after mechanical site preparation. Site index (SI) is a term used in forestry to describe the potential for forest trees to grow at a particular location, and H100 indicates the mean tree height (m) of the dominant trees at an age of 100 years. (Reprinted with permission from Egnell et al. (). Copyright 2017 IEA Bioenergy)
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Impact on the global average temperature of bioenergy from a single harvest of stumps (upper diagram) and for continuous supply (lower diagram) compared to fossil coal and natural gas in southern Sweden [unit: Femto (10−15) Kelvin degrees per MJ]. Where the stump energy curves fall below the curves of the fossil alternatives, stump energy is more beneficial from a climate perspective. The substitution curves correspond to the net impact of bioenergy when replacing fossil fuels. (Reprinted from Stendahl, Hammar, et al. (). Copyright 2017 IEA Bioenergy)
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