By Cameron Chai
The usage of forest biomass for producing energy has begun worldwide. However, a new study has demonstrated that such usage may not be sustainable and release higher greenhouse gas emissions.
The study was conducted by the Oregon State University (OSU), Max-Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Germany, and other universities in France, Switzerland and Austria.
The research team observed that the increased usage of forest biomass may result in depletion of soil nutrients, loss of forest biodiversity, higher erosion risk, younger forests, and shorter tree rotations. Moreover, bioenergy expenditure will increase and use of more fertilizers can lead to greenhouse emissions.
Based on the commercial usage of biofuels, the researchers have raised several issues in the report. As per the report, the common belief that considers bioenergy as carbon-neutral is invalid and many years will be required to rectify the loss of carbon and biomass created in the forest.
Furthermore, the researchers are concerned about the financial status of biofuels that might require subsidies or mandates from governments. In addition, the cost of biomass will rise due to higher demand. Bioenergy can create a negative effect on soil fertility, water and vegetation and even on ecosystem diversity.
The scientists stated that biofuels can be produced on bare lands, which had forestation, but this will present a competition in producing human and animal food.
The report has been published in the journal, Global Change Biology/Bioenergy.