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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Salvage harvesting for bioenergy in Canada: From sustainable and integrated supply chain to climate change mitigation

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Driven by the policy imperatives of mitigating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving energy security, an increasing proportion of global energy demand is being met by nonfossil energy sources. The socioeconomic and environmental benefits of replacing fossil fuels with bioenergy are complex; however, debate continues about issues such as best practices for biomass removal, stable supply chains, and GHG mitigation. With the greatest biomass per capita in the world, Canada could play an increasing role in the future of global bioenergy and the emerging bioeconomy. This paper reviews the utilization of feedstock salvaged after natural disturbances (fire and insect outbreaks) to supply wood‐based bioenergy, by addressing the following multidisciplinary questions: (1) How much salvaged feedstock is available, and what are the uncertainties around these estimates? (2) How can sustainable practices to support increased removal of biomass be implemented? (3) What are the constraints on development of an integrated supply chain and cost‐effective mobilization of the biomass? (4) Is the quality of biomass from salvaged trees suitable for conversion to bioenergy? (5) What is the potential for climate change mitigation? In average, salvaged feedstock from fire and insects could theoretically provide about 100 × 106 oven Dry ton (ODT) biomass per year, with high variability over time and space. Existing policies and guidelines for harvesting of woody biomass in Canadian jurisdictions could support sustainable biomass removal. However, uncertainties remain as to the development of competitive and profitable supply chains, because of the large distances between the locations of this feedstock and available processing sites. Another uncertainty lies in the time needed for a benefit in climate change mitigation to occur. A flexible supply chain, integrated with other sources of biomass residues, is needed to develop a cost‐efficient bioenergy sector. This article is categorized under: Bioenergy > Climate and Environment
a) Forest area disturbed by forest fire and insect outbreaks in Canada (Photo 1: fire ; Photo 2: Dead trees following infestation of mountain pine beetle in central British Columbia; Photo 3: Defoliation from Spruce Budworm in Quebec. Photo credits: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service). (b) Annual area disturbed by fire and insect outbreaks in Canada (Data sources: Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs, ; Natural Resources Canada, )
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Timing of GHG benefits in scenarios using different bioenergy feedstocks to replace various fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas) for heat and power production (Alban & Pastor, ). Before GHG benefits are achieved (green phase), there is a period of variable length, defined as C debt, during which GHG emissions are higher in the bioenergy scenario than in the counterfactual “fossil” scenario (black phase). We also defined an uncertainty period (yellow phase) where is it unclear if GHG benefits are achieved or not. The asterisk refers to harvest residues that are burned by roadside rather than being left to decompose on the harvest site in the counterfactual scenario
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Theoretical quality of salvaged wood as a function of degradation stages, according to three indicators. The degradation stages (stage 1 = live, stage 2 = live but declining, stage 3 = recently dead, stage 4 = older dead) are adapted from Hunter (). The slope of each line is based on various studies (Barrette et al., ; Barrette, Thiffault, & Paré, ; Barrette, Thiffault, Paré, & Duchesne, ; Barrette, Thiffault, Saint‐Pierre, et al., ).See the text for more details
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(a) Hot spot biomass from fire (1 × 106 ODT year−1) within a 100‐km radius circle from any disturbed pixels between 2002 and 2011. (Reprinted with permission from Mansuy et al., 2017. Copyright 2017 Elsevier). (b) Annual biomass (M ODT year−1) produced by fire during the same period
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Estimated availability (min, mean, and max in M ODT year−1) of harvest residues, processing residues, and killed salvaged wood among the managed forest of Canada from various studies
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