Aspects of Biomass utilization from Forests and other Resources
|Convener: V. J. Bruckman | Co-Convener: V. Parravicini|
Biomass was once the major source of energy until industrial revolution in the midst of the 19th century and the total amount of Bioenergy utilized for Energy production is yearly growing. Soils as the primary resource for the production of these renewable forms of energy are not renewable which implies the need of sustainable management. Fertilization and potential greenhouse gas emissions, water management (irrigation) and other ecological concerns (e.g. biodiversity) have to be considered. Concepts such as (virtual) water or carbon footprint assessment could deliver a wider understanding of the potential impacts. A sustainable efficiency enhancement is inevitable, in particular in developing countries, as the potential to convert additional land for agriculture is limited and the long-term impact on soil fertility has to be considered.
Biomass from various sources such as forests, short rotation woody crops (SRWC) and agriculture recently received increased attention. Agricultural crops are worldwide seen as an alternative resource of energy and as raw materials for industrial processes (e.g. in the production of starch products and bioplastic, “second-generation products”). As the prices for fossil energy sources are rising for several reasons, and international agreements to reduce CO2 emissions are implemented in national strategies, a revival of renewable energy sources could be observed.
Woody biomass from forests supplied thermal energy for nearly all industrial processes and for domestic needs. Extensive utilization of forest biomass led to wide-spread vast deforestations with a number of negative consequences, for instance soil erosion, biodiversity loss and pollution of clean water reserves. Affected ecosystems recovered slowly after increasing utilisation of fossil energy sources. However, recovery may be very slow (up to several millennia), and hence, some effects of intensive biomass extraction, like soil acidification for instance, are still detectable.
However, increasing biomass stocks in a number of European countries, potentials for income in rural areas, energy security and nearly CO2- neutral utilization are most stressed arguments brought forward in public discussions when supporting the idea of increased biomass utilization for thermal energy and industrial processes. From the scientific point of view, many questions are still not answered and it needs interdisciplinary and holistic approaches to assess the biomass potentials of different sources, the various environmental consequences on extensive biomass utilization and how to mitigate such negative effects, as well as the CO2 mitigation potential and potential conflicts with traditional industries.
This session is open to contributions assessing aspects of biomass utilization at different scales (e.g. local-global, national forest inventories), dealing with potential consequences of land-use change on soils (e.g. nutrient depletion, acidification, carbon cycle), water (e.g. pollution, altering catchment water balances) and atmosphere (e.g. CO2 mitigation potentials, VOC’s pollution of fast growing species). Abstracts proposing alternative use of forest biomass (gasification, biomass-to-liquid (BtL), torrification) are highly welcome.
Please note that this session is a merged session of the formerly proposed sessions “Biomass from Forests – Potentials and consequences”, “Biomass as a raw material for industrial processes and energy” and “Short Rotation Forestry for Bioenergy”. This session is co-organized with the IUFRO Task-Force Forest Bioenergy and IUFRO Unit 7.01.03, Impacts of air pollution and climate change on forest ecosystems – Atmospheric deposition, soils and nutrient cycles.