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Fuelwood forestry and biodiversity conservation. A focus on the European case study

Abstract : The implementation of Climate Change Mitigation Activities has led to increased interest in intensive biomass production in forests. Woodfuels provide a renewable, carbon-neutral source of energy to reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. However their production could have consequences for environmental issues such as soil fertility and erosion. Moreover, their interest may conflict with biodiversity conservation efforts. This talk focuses on the main risks of woodfuels to forest biodiversity, in developed countries (especially Europe). Forest practices related to intensifying woodfuel production and shaping forest biodiversity are examined. Many of these concerns apply to most types of forest management, but some are particularly relevant to or increased by intensified woodfuel harvests. The more pressing issues first include an increasing cumulative surface of cutting areas, due to extensive thinning and clearing, to the felling of previously unmanaged woodlots in agricultural landscapes, and to potential encroachment on protected forests for woodfuel (under policy pressures). A second pressing issue is the change in harvesting practices, with the extension of traditional fuelwood collection and the removal of deadwood that was formerly partly left on site (small trees, slash, logging residues, logs of low quality, stumps) after early thinning or final felling. Other pressing issues consist in the shortening of forestry cycle duration, the development of forest road access, and the conversion of native forests into mono-specific plantations or short-rotation coppices of fast-growing species. Combining these practices can have both positive and negative effects on species diversity, at the levels of landscapes, habitats, species, and genes. Large-scale wood biomass removal is especially of concern, since it may jeopardise the amounts of substrate required as food and habitat by saproxylic organisms. Deadwood-associated communities may also be affected by changes in the deadwood profile, linked with the decreasing density of some deadwood components (Fine Woody Debris and stumps, for instance). Ecological trapping by log piles may also be amplified. Other impacts include the decreasing density in old stands and veteran trees, potential changes in forest microclimate, enhanced disturbance to fauna and habitat fragmentation. Several potential benefits to biodiversity are eventually alluded. All these predictions clearly depend on local history and environmental conditions. Adequate knowledge would help determine what and how much habitat should be left, where to direct intense harvesting in the landscape. Recommendations to maximize benefits to biodiversity while minimizing negative impacts, require further research and manipulative experiments designed to test the effects of biomass removal on biodiversity.
Mots-clés : EUROPE
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Conference papers
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Contributor : Migration Irstea Publications <>
Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 7:40:12 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 12:09:34 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02595106, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00031998



Christophe Bouget, A. Lassauce, M. Jonsell. Fuelwood forestry and biodiversity conservation. A focus on the European case study. International Symposium on dynamics and ecological services of deadwood in forest ecosystems, May 2011, Rouyn-Noranda, Canada. pp.55. ⟨hal-02595106⟩



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