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Wood Fuel or Carbon Sink? Aspects of Forestry in the Climate Question


  • Even Bjørnstad


  • Anders Skonhoft



This paper discusses and contrasts two mainroles of forestry in light of the debate on theglobal climate. As the main problem is relatedto the increases of the CO 2 -concentrationin the atmosphere, forests may be viewed aspart of the alleviation of the problem throughtheir function as (i) a source of biomass forenergy production, which may replace fossilfuels and thus indirectly reduceCO 2 -emissions, and as (ii) carbon storage,since a growing forest extracts atmosphericCO 2 and fixes it as carbon in biomass. Inthe Scandinavian forestry, logging residues areincreasingly being used for energy production.In this paper the value of forests as a sourceof bioenergy is added to the traditional timbervalue. Formulated as a joint production modelwithin the Faustmann framework, the effect ofthis addition on the optimal rotation length isdiscussed. Based on data for spruce, thedominant species in the Scandinavian forestry,it is demonstrated that the rotation length isshortened compared to the standard Faustmannmodel. Shorter rotation length implies lesscarbon storage. Therefore, in this modelwithout explicit regard to the social carbonstorage value of the forest, the gains in termsof the climate problem from utilisation offorest biomass for energy production are beingdiminished by the value of reduced carbonstorage. The carbon value of the forest is thenadded to complete the model, with the effect ofincreasing the rotation length, a result thatis well known in the literature. Finally, theempirical effects of the interaction of thesetwo climate-related value elements of theforest are discussed. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Suggested Citation

  • Even Bjørnstad & Anders Skonhoft, 2002. "Wood Fuel or Carbon Sink? Aspects of Forestry in the Climate Question," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 23(4), pages 447-465, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:enreec:v:23:y:2002:i:4:p:447-465
    DOI: 10.1023/A:1021379306349

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Clarke, Harry R. & Shrestha, Ram M., 1986. "Long run equilibrium properties of renewable resource management models," Resources and Energy, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 279-308, September.
    2. Swallow, Stephen K. & Parks, Peter J. & Wear, David N., 1990. "Policy-relevant nonconvexities in the production of multiple forest benefits," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 264-280, November.
    3. Sedjo, Roger A., 1997. "The economics of forest-based biomass supply," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 559-566, May.
    4. Samuelson, Paul A, 1976. "Economics of Forestry in an Evolving Society," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(4), pages 466-492, December.
    5. Hartman, Richard, 1976. "The Harvesting Decision When a Standing Forest Has Value," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 14(1), pages 52-58, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Lintunen, Jussi & Uusivuori, Jussi, 2014. "On The Economics of Forest Carbon: Renewable and Carbon Neutral But Not Emission Free," Climate Change and Sustainable Development 165755, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM).
    2. Pätäri, Satu & Puumalainen, Kaisu & Jantunen, Ari & Sandstrüm, Jaana, 2011. "The interface of the energy and forest sectors--Potential players in the bioenergy business," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 131(1), pages 322-332, May.
    3. Vass, Miriam Münnich & Elofsson, Katarina, 2016. "Is forest carbon sequestration at the expense of bioenergy and forest products cost-efficient in EU climate policy to 2050?," Journal of Forest Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(C), pages 82-105.
    4. Jin Zhang & Rong-Gang Cong & Berit Hasler, 2018. "Sustainable Management of Oleaginous Trees as a Source for Renewable Energy Supply and Climate Change Mitigation: A Case Study in China," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(5), pages 1-23, May.
    5. Repo, Anna & Ahtikoski, Anssi & Liski, Jari, 2015. "Cost of turning forest residue bioenergy to carbon neutral," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 12-21.
    6. Bilgen, Selçuk & Keleş, Sedat & Sarıkaya, İkbal & Kaygusuz, Kamil, 2015. "A perspective for potential and technology of bioenergy in Turkey: Present case and future view," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 228-239.
    7. Ning, Zhuo & Sun, Changyou, 2019. "Carbon sequestration and biofuel production on forestland under three stochastic prices," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 109(C).
    8. Lu, Li & Tang, Ya & Xie, Jia-sui & Yuan, Yuan-liang, 2009. "The role of marginal agricultural land-based mulberry planting in biomass energy production," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1789-1794.

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    bioenergy; climate; forestry; joint production;


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