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Setting priorities for land management to mitigate climate change

Abstract : Background: No consensus has been reached how to measure the effectiveness of climate change mitigation in the land-use sector and how to prioritize land use accordingly. We used the long-term cumulative and average sectorial C stocks in biomass, soil and products, C stock changes, the substitution of fossil energy and of energy-intensive products, and net present value (NPV) as evaluation criteria for the effectiveness of a hectare of productive land to mitigate climate change and produce economic returns. We evaluated land management options using real-life data of Thuringia, a region representative for central-western European conditions, and input from life cycle assessment, with a carbon-tracking model. We focused on solid biomass use for energy production.Results: In forestry, the traditional timber production was most economically viable and most climate-friendly due to an assumed recycling rate of 80% of wood products for bioenergy. Intensification towards "pure bioenergy production" would reduce the average sectorial C stocks and the C substitution and would turn NPV negative. In the forest conservation (non-use) option, the sectorial C stocks increased by 52% against timber production, which was not compensated by foregone wood products and C substitution. Among the cropland options wheat for food with straw use for energy, whole cereals for energy, and short rotation coppice for bioenergy the latter was most climate-friendly. However, specific subsidies or incentives for perennials would be needed to favour this option.Conclusions: When using the harvested products as materials prior to energy use there is no climate argument to support intensification by switching from sawn-wood timber production towards energy-wood in forestry systems. A legal framework would be needed to ensure that harvested products are first used for raw materials prior to energy use. Only an effective recycling of biomaterials frees land for long-term sustained C sequestration by conservation. Reuse cascades avoid additional emissions from shifting production or intensification. 2012 Böttcher et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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H. Böttcher, A. Freibauer, Y. Scholz, V. Gitz, P. Ciais, et al.. Setting priorities for land management to mitigate climate change. Carbon Balance and Management, 2012, 7 (1), pp.5. ⟨10.1186/1750-0680-7-5⟩. ⟨hal-00716172⟩



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