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Can forest fuel contribute in the transition towards a sustainable society? – A cross-disciplinary analysis of economic, environmental and political aspects across Sweden

Hällström, Lina LU (2012) MVEM11 20112
Studies in Environmental Science
Abstract
This thesis is a pilot study for cross-disciplinary analysis with the aim to compare the prerequisites for sustainable harvesting of forest residues/fuels in southern and northern Sweden from both environmental and societal perspectives. It has three main focus areas: (A) Potential to produce forest fuels; (B) Effects on the nutrient budget; and (C) Practical aspects and attitudes within the forestry sector. (A) is calculated for 16 forest sites (8 in the North and 8 in the South of Sweden) at 2 harvesting intensities (Scenario 1: 80% slash and 50% stumps; Scenario 2: 60% slash and 30% stumps), based on input data from the Swedish Forest Agency, using the software application StandWise. (B) includes net balances of Ca, Mg, K, P and N,... (More)
This thesis is a pilot study for cross-disciplinary analysis with the aim to compare the prerequisites for sustainable harvesting of forest residues/fuels in southern and northern Sweden from both environmental and societal perspectives. It has three main focus areas: (A) Potential to produce forest fuels; (B) Effects on the nutrient budget; and (C) Practical aspects and attitudes within the forestry sector. (A) is calculated for 16 forest sites (8 in the North and 8 in the South of Sweden) at 2 harvesting intensities (Scenario 1: 80% slash and 50% stumps; Scenario 2: 60% slash and 30% stumps), based on input data from the Swedish Forest Agency, using the software application StandWise. (B) includes net balances of Ca, Mg, K, P and N, calculated for two forest sites (one in the North and one in the South of Sweden), at 4 different harvesting intensities (Scenario 1 and 2 as in A; Scenario 3: stems only; Scenario 0: no harvest), using the steady-state soil chemistry model PROFILE. (C) is an interview study based on 17 semi-structured qualitative interviews with representatives from the Swedish forestry (the Swedish Forest Agency, the forest industry, forest owner associations, researchers and forest conservationists) active in northern and southern Sweden. The results show that the conditions for forest fuel production vary across the country due to differences in forest properties, environmental conditions and socio-economic factors. (A) In southern Sweden the forest fuel potential is about 60% higher per hectare than in the North, due to more biomass per hectare. This corresponds to 520 MWh ha-1 in the South and 320 MWh ha-1 in the North in Scenario 1. (B) The removal of nutrients is larger in the South compared to the North. 2,5 times more Ca, 10 times more Mg and more than 3 times more K in are lost from the South than the North in Scenario 1. The N loss is about 3 times greater in the North than in the South and for P the balance was around 0 in the North and almost 1 kg ha-1 in the South. The differences between harvesting scenarios show that harvesting intensity is the most influential factor determining the net balances of studied nutrients, which further indicate higher risk of nutrient depletion in the South than in the North when removing forest fuels. (C) The level of extraction and the limiting factors vary across the country, although during current practical and economic conditions, a large-scale extraction of forest fuels is judged as impossible to achieve. Attitudes towards increased biomass extraction, prices, infrastructure and ownerships structure determine the actual forest fuel extraction. There is a conflict between the climate benefit of forest fuels, and biodiversity and nature conservation, as well as between maintained nutrient balance and the risk of soil damages as forest fuels are extracted. There is however a discrepancy between actor groups regarding current environmental state in Swedish forests, and hence in attitude towards the severity of the effects of forest fuel extraction. Most actors ask for clear regulations of how and where to extract forest residues, and agree that the Swedish Forest Agency has limited power to conduct law enforcement. Better planning before and improved knowledge during forestry operations are identified as important measures to achieve sustainable extraction of forest fuels. This study shows that a trans-disciplinary approach can improve the basis for decisions and planning concerning future forest fuel production and that the different conditions in different parts of Sweden have to be handled more thoroughly than at present. (Less)
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author
Hällström, Lina LU
supervisor
organization
course
MVEM11 20112
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
language
English
id
2682465
date added to LUP
2012-06-04 16:39:15
date last changed
2012-06-08 10:55:01
@misc{2682465,
  abstract     = {This thesis is a pilot study for cross-disciplinary analysis with the aim to compare the prerequisites for sustainable harvesting of forest residues/fuels in southern and northern Sweden from both environmental and societal perspectives. It has three main focus areas: (A) Potential to produce forest fuels; (B) Effects on the nutrient budget; and (C) Practical aspects and attitudes within the forestry sector. (A) is calculated for 16 forest sites (8 in the North and 8 in the South of Sweden) at 2 harvesting intensities (Scenario 1: 80% slash and 50% stumps; Scenario 2: 60% slash and 30% stumps), based on input data from the Swedish Forest Agency, using the software application StandWise. (B) includes net balances of Ca, Mg, K, P and N, calculated for two forest sites (one in the North and one in the South of Sweden), at 4 different harvesting intensities (Scenario 1 and 2 as in A; Scenario 3: stems only; Scenario 0: no harvest), using the steady-state soil chemistry model PROFILE. (C) is an interview study based on 17 semi-structured qualitative interviews with representatives from the Swedish forestry (the Swedish Forest Agency, the forest industry, forest owner associations, researchers and forest conservationists) active in northern and southern Sweden. The results show that the conditions for forest fuel production vary across the country due to differences in forest properties, environmental conditions and socio-economic factors. (A) In southern Sweden the forest fuel potential is about 60% higher per hectare than in the North, due to more biomass per hectare. This corresponds to 520 MWh ha-1 in the South and 320 MWh ha-1 in the North in Scenario 1. (B) The removal of nutrients is larger in the South compared to the North. 2,5 times more Ca, 10 times more Mg and more than 3 times more K in are lost from the South than the North in Scenario 1. The N loss is about 3 times greater in the North than in the South and for P the balance was around 0 in the North and almost 1 kg ha-1 in the South. The differences between harvesting scenarios show that harvesting intensity is the most influential factor determining the net balances of studied nutrients, which further indicate higher risk of nutrient depletion in the South than in the North when removing forest fuels. (C) The level of extraction and the limiting factors vary across the country, although during current practical and economic conditions, a large-scale extraction of forest fuels is judged as impossible to achieve. Attitudes towards increased biomass extraction, prices, infrastructure and ownerships structure determine the actual forest fuel extraction. There is a conflict between the climate benefit of forest fuels, and biodiversity and nature conservation, as well as between maintained nutrient balance and the risk of soil damages as forest fuels are extracted. There is however a discrepancy between actor groups regarding current environmental state in Swedish forests, and hence in attitude towards the severity of the effects of forest fuel extraction. Most actors ask for clear regulations of how and where to extract forest residues, and agree that the Swedish Forest Agency has limited power to conduct law enforcement. Better planning before and improved knowledge during forestry operations are identified as important measures to achieve sustainable extraction of forest fuels. This study shows that a trans-disciplinary approach can improve the basis for decisions and planning concerning future forest fuel production and that the different conditions in different parts of Sweden have to be handled more thoroughly than at present.},
  author       = {Hällström, Lina},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Can forest fuel contribute in the transition towards a sustainable society? – A cross-disciplinary analysis of economic, environmental and political aspects across Sweden},
  year         = {2012},
}