Factsheet: Sustainable woodfuel harvesting

Sustainable woodfuel harvesting

Key Information
This publication is to present basic principles and practical guidelines on how to ensure the sustainability of woodfuel harvesting operations in boreal forests. The guidelines are described on a relatively general level, so that they are more or less straightforwardly applicable to other European conditions. These recommendations are based on projects conducted by Forestry Development Centre Tapio to create guidance for sustainable woodfuel production in Finland (Äijälä et al 2010). The sustainability of woodfuel harvesting is executed on two levels, described later in the form of seven principles: i) only suitable sites with no-risks or low-risks are selected for woodfuel harvesting; and ii) a necessary set of actions is carried out to preserve the sustainability on sites chosen for woodfuel harvesting. in Finland “wood fuel” is primarily referred to as branches, top and the stump i.e. residues of round wood logging. In addition, small-diameter trees from early thinnings are commonly considered as a woodfuel fraction. Therefore, the following guidelines focus on harvesting other woody fractions than stem wood. The main principles of Tapio´s guidelines for forest fuels are: Principle 1: Wood fuel should be harvested only on suitable sites. (Wood fuel should not be harvested in places where it constitutes a substantial threat to profitable silviculture, biodiversity, water protection or recreation). Principle 2: Wood fuel harvesting should not substantially diminish growth potential or silvicultural quality of the harvesting site s (A portion of the biomass is always left on the harvesting sites. Thinnings should maintain proper stand density and structure, Damage to remaining trees and soil surface should be avoided and Harvesting operations should not increase fungal or insect damages in the stands), Principle 3: Wood fuel harvesting should not diminish the biodiversity of forest ecosystems (Wood fuel harvesting should not reduce the amount of coarse woody debris in the forests, Tree species’ diversity and natural stand structure should be maintained); Principle 4: Wood fuel harvesting should not cause erosion nor reduce the ecological value of water systems (The risk of erosion should be recognised and managed, Buffer zones are applied beside all water courses, Unnecessary disturbance of soil surface should be avoided); Principle 5: Recreational, cultural and landscape values should be taken into account in wood fuel harvesting ( Objects valuable to cultural heritage are taken into account in wood fuel harvesting, Harvesting sites with special recreational values or landscape values are felled with specific instructions and planning); Principle 6: Climate change mitigation should be a prime consideration in all wood fuel harvesting operations ( Wood fuel harvesting should not reduce the carbon sinks of the harvested stands, The carbon storage in the forest soils should be preserved, Carbon efficiency is maximized throughout the whole procurement chain and The energy content of the wood fuel should be maximized throughout the whole procurement chain); Principle 7: Quality and energy content of wood fuel should be maximized throughout the whole procurement chain (Wood fuel is seasoned and stored properly, Impurities amongst wood fuel are minimized)
Provide forest owners with practical knowledge on good practices in energy wood harvesting.

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