Drivers of very intensive biomass harvesting in Denmark and implications for carbon balances
The first energy policies in Denmark were developed in 1976 as a consequence of the 1973 oil crisis. These policies proposed to replace oil with other energy sources including e.g. forest and agricultural biomass. Prior to 1976, farmers had already started to install individual straw-fuelled stoves. In 1993, a political agreement mandated use of biomass in large-scale electricity production. As a result, intensive harvesting of residual biomass is taking place today in both forestry and agriculture to meet the goals of a fossil fuel independent energy system by 2050.
Studies have examined how biomass production for energy from Danish landscapes can be doubled. More intensive harvesting of biomass will decrease the input of carbon to soil. If forest rotations are shortened and management is intensified, ecosystem carbon in living and dead biomass is also expected to decrease. As a result, Denmark must deal with the tradeoffs between de-carbonization of energy production and related climate change mitigation goals and carbon storage in ecosystems. Intensive management and harvesting of biomass may also compromise other ecosystem services such as biodiversity.
This seminar will discuss the rapidly evolving situation in Denmark related to policies designed to mitigate climate change, intensive utilization of biomass in agricultural and forested landscapes, and the tradeoffs involved.
Inge Stupak is Associate Professor in the Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management at the University of Copenhagen.