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Large-scale forest bio-energy creates carbon debt

Study says nurturing healthy forests does more to curb global warming

Healthy, growing forests are good carbon sinks; converting woody biomass to energy results in a carbon debt that takes 100 years to repay.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While some logging advocates continue to talk up forest biomass as a green energy source, there’s good reason it isn’t happening on a significant scale. Cutting wood and burning live trees, in whatever form, is just not energy efficient, except perhaps on a modest scale with low-frequency harvests every 50 to 100 years — or on a small, local level, where already dead wood is converted fuel on the spot.

In one of the most recent studies, researchers at Duke and Oregon State universities concluded that maintaining intact forests as carbon sinks does more to curb climate change over the next century than cutting and burning their wood as fuel.

After modeling numerous harvesting and conversion scenarios, the study concluded that it takes more 100 years to repay the carbon debt — the net reduction in carbon storage — incurred by cutting, transporting and burning woody forest biomass. Continue reading

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