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Title

Environmental impacts of forest production and supply of pulpwood: Spanish and Swedish case studies

AuthorsGonzález-García, Sara ; Berg, S.; Feijoó, Gumersindo; Moreira, María Teresa
KeywordsEnergy use
Environmental impacts
Eucalyptus globulus
Forest operations
Pulpwood
Renewable resources
Spain
Sweden
Issue Date2009
PublisherSpringer
CitationInternational Journal of Life Cycle Assessment, 14 (4) : 340-353 (2009)
AbstractBackground, aim and scope Forest operations use large amounts of energy, which must be considered when life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology is applied to forest products. Forest management practices differ considerably between countries and may also differ within a country. This paper aims to identify and compare the environmental burdens from forest operations in Sweden and Spain focused on pulpwood production and supply to pulp mills. Materials and methods To perform the analysis, the main forest plantations were investigated as well as the most important tree species used in pulp mills in both countries: eucalyptus and, Norway spruce and Scots pine, were taken into account for the Spanish and Swedish case studies, respectively. Energy requirements for pulpwood production and supply to Spanish and Swedish pulp mills are evaluated in this paper. All forest operations from site preparation to extraction of felled wood to the delivery point at the roadside are included within the system boundaries as well as wood transport from forest landing to the pulp mill gate. Seedling and machinery production are excluded from the system boundaries due to lack of field data. The impact assessment phase was carried out according to the Swedish Environmental Management Council and, in particular, the impact categories assessed in forest and agricultural LCAs (global warming, acidification, eutrophication and photochemical oxidant formation) were analysed. SimaPro 7.10 software was used to perform the impact assessment stage. Results Different types of wood are produced in both case studies: softwood in Sweden and hardwood in Spain, with higher production of round wood and biomass per hectare in Sweden. Total energy use for pulpwood production and supply are in a similar order of magnitude, up to 395 MJ and 370 MJ/m3 solid under bark in Spain and Sweden, respectively. Field operations, such as silviculture and logging, are more energy-intensive in the Spanish case study. However, secondary hauling of pulpwood to pulp mill requires more energy in the Swedish case study. These important differences are related to different forest management practices as well as to pulpwood supply to the pulp mill. The eventual imports of pulpwood, application of pesticides, thinning step or final felling considerably affects energy requirements, which are reflected on the environmental results.
Discussion Although differences between both case studies were observed, several stages were investigated: wood delivery to the pulp mill by road, harvesting and forwarding, contribute considerably to acidification, eutrophication and global warming potential in both cases. The type of wood, the machines used in forest operations (mechanised or motor-manual), the use of fossil fuels and the amount of wood produced influence the results. These differences must be kept in mind in comparative studies between such different countries. Conclusions The results obtained in this work allow one to forecast the importance of forest operations in LCA of forest products (in this case, wood pulp) and the influence of energy use in the results. Special attention has been paid in the inventory analysis stage for both case studies. It is possible to gain a better environmental performance in both case studies if alternative practices are considered, mainly focused on site preparation and stand tending in the Spanish system and on pulpwood supply in the Swedish one. Recommendations and perspectives This study provides useful information that can assist forest-based industries in the aim of increasing their sustainability. Future work will focus on the study of several transport alternatives of pulpwood supply including railway, road and ship. In addition, pulpwood processing in Spanish and Swedish paper pulp mills considered to be representative of the “state of art” will be carried out in order to get a complete picture of this kind of forest-based industry. In addition, the use of biofuels (such as forest biomass) instead of fossil fuels and CO2 uptake of wood via photosynthesis will be carried out in order to have a complete perspective of forest ecosystems.
Description14 páginas, 4 figuras, 3 tablas -- PAGS nros. 340-353
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11367-009-0089-1
URIhttp://hdl.handle.net/10261/47546
DOI10.1007/s11367-009-0089-1
ISSN0948-3349
E-ISSN1614-7502
Appears in Collections:(CIB) Artículos
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