Article Scientifique

Abdelwahab Bessaad, Isabelle Bilger, Nathalie Korboulewsky
Assessing Biomass Removal and Woody Debris in Whole-Tree Harvesting System: Are the Recommended Levels of Residues Ensured?
Forests, 2021, 12, 807.
Forest biomass is a sustainable source of renewable energy and a valuable alternative to finite fossil fuels. However, its overharvesting may lead to soil nutrient depletion and threaten future stand productivity, as well as affect the habitat for biodiversity. This paper provides quantitative data on biomass removal, fine woody debris [d <=7 cm], and coarse woody debris [d > 7 cm] left on the forest floor in whole tree harvesting systems. Using tree allometric equations and inventory field methods for woody debris estimation, we assessed biomass removal on nine fuelwood harvesting sites in Central France, as well as fine and coarse woody debris left on the sites. The aboveground biomass estimates showed a high variability between the studied sites, it varied between 118 and 519 Mg ha-1. However, less variability was found among sites managed as coppice-with-standards 174+-56 Mg ha-1. Exported biomass was 107+-42 Mg ha-1 on average, including 35+-9% of fine wood. The amounts of both fine and coarse woody debris left on sites were generally less than 10% of the total harvested biomass in 2/3 of the studied sites. These amounts are lower than the minimum retention levels recommended by the sustainable forest biomass harvesting guidelines. Therefore, more technical effort and additional management measures should be taken to ensure more woody debris, especially in poor forest soils and thus, to guarantee a sustainable biomass harvesting.

Keywords: whole-tree harvesting; biomass; fuelwood; fine woody debris; coarse woody debris; coppice-with-standards

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