Analysis of the Mitigation Potential of Canada’s Forest Sector to Reduce GHG Emissions

    • Presentation speakers
      • Carolyn Smyth, Forest Sector Climate Change Mitigation, Canadian Forest Service in Victoria BC
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    Abstract

    The potential of forests and the forest sector to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) is widely recognized, but challenging to quantify at the national scale. Here we determine the mitigation potential for 230 million hectares of Canada’s managed forests using a national-scale application of the Carbon Budget Model of the Canadian Forest Sector (CBM-CFS3), a harvested wood products model that estimates half-life decay times, and an account of displaced emissions from the use of wood over other energy sources or other products. We estimate changes in the GHG emissions and removals of Canada’s managed forests (2015 – 2050) under a base-case scenario (including natural disturbances), and compare it to forest management scenarios including increased harvest and residue management for bioenergy.  The results demonstrate that not all strategies result in reduced emissions. Some strategies result in short-term increases in emissions with eventual reductions over the long-term.  Displacement of emissions for bioenergy and forest management strategies result in small mitigation benefits that accumulate and can become important over time. We conclude that national-scale forest sector mitigation options need to be assessed rigorously from a systems perspective to avoid the development of policies that deliver no net benefits to the atmosphere.