Canadian Forest Service Publications

Future quantities and spatial distribution of harvesting residue and dead wood from natural disturbances in Canada. 2010. Dymond, C.C.; Titus, B.D.; Stinson, G.; Kurz, W.A. Forest Ecology and Management 260(2): 181-192.

Year: 2010

Issued by: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 31768

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.04.015

† This site may require a fee

Mark record


Interest in the use of bioenergy is increasing because of the need to mitigate climate change, the increasing costs and finite supply of fossil fuels, and the declining price of lumber and paper. Sound bioenergy policies must be informed by accurate estimates of potential feedstock production, rights to the production, social values and economics. Two of the main sources of bioenergy feedstock from forests are (i) harvesting residue and (ii) dead wood resulting from natural disturbances (i.e. standing dead timber). We modeled the production of bioenergy feedstock from these two sources from 2005 to 2020 for Canada's managed forest south of 60° N so that this information can be used in provincial and national strategic planning. Published estimates of harvesting residue vary widely, and our objective was to provide more precise estimates based on new forest inventory data and regional modeling. Natural disturbances result in very large quantities of dead wood on the landscape, but estimates of future stocks and annual production have not previously been made. Our estimates included a 50% discount factor to net-down theoretically available quantities to a more realistic estimate of potential ecologically sustainable bioenergy feedstock. The total future annual production averaged 51° ± °17° Tg °year-1 from natural disturbances and 20° ±° 0.6° Tg° year-1 from clearcut harvesting residues. Harvesting residue for the area logged varied spatially from a low of 1.0° ± °0.77 °kg° m-2° year-1 to a high of 6.7° ±° 0.1° kg °m-2° year-1. Dead wood production due to insects was forecast to peak in the Montane Cordillera of British Columbia (BC) at 16.7° Tg °year-1 due to the current mountain pine beetle outbreak. Total dead wood production due to fire was highest in the western portion of the boreal forest (3.6 °Tg° year-1 in the Boreal Shield of Saskatchewan), in part due to the high frequency of fires in these ecosystems and the large area of western boreal forest, but the highest density production was in BC: >9° kg° m-2° year-1 in the burned area. Our results showed that the dead wood stocks of 331°Tg oven-dry matter potentially available for bioenergy in 2020 are much smaller than the 3100° ±° 84° Tg of dead wood stocks estimated based on ecosystem dynamics. While bioenergy use will accelerate the release of greenhouse gases compared to on-site decay, the energy is renewable and can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels. The net benefit to the atmosphere of forest bioenergy use is affected by many factors, and future research should further assess which sustainable wood-based bioenergy strategies yield the greatest net greenhouse gas benefits over the different time scales needed for post-disturbance forest recovery.