Energy from U.S. forests: mostly unsustainable according to peer reviewed study in Nature
A peer reviewed paper in the November 2011 issue of Nature/Climate, shows that, at least in the U.S., biofuel production from forestry results in higher carbon emissions than not producing biofuel in most cases. Even just increasing fire management, removing biomass that acts as tinder, will result in a net reduction in forest sequestration in most cases(behind paywall). According to the study Regional carbon dioxide implications of forest bioenergy production, in most cases the decreased fire rate does not make up for biomass removal. There are exceptions, forests that produce exceptionally high emissions when subject to fire, but these results apply to 90% of forested area studied, and 13 of 19 eco-regions. Changes in climate and increases in pests due to global warming in the future might change that, but only if energy production from biofuel is done in an optimum and unlikely way, for example converted to fuel with close to 100% efficiency. It seems that, at least in the USA, biofuel from forests is never going to provide a significant source of sustainable energy. This peer reviewed paper converges in its conclusion with the study recently released by Greenpeace(pdf) on the same subject which Climate Progress and Grist have covered.
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