Simulating long-term effects of bioenergy extraction on dead wood availability at a landscape scale in Sweden

Hof, Anouschka R.; Löfroth, Therese; Rudolphi, Jörgen; Work, Timothy; Hjältén, Joakim


Wood bioenergy may decrease the reliance on fossil carbon and mitigate anticipated increases in temperature. However, increased use of wood bioenergy may have large impacts on forest biodiversity primarily through the loss of dead wood habitats. We evaluated both the large-scale and long-term effects of different bioenergy extraction scenarios on the availability of dead wood and the suitability of the resulting habitat for saproxylic species, using a spatially explicit forest landscape simulation framework applied in the Swedish boreal forest. We demonstrate that bioenergy extraction scenarios, differing in the level of removal of biomass, can have significant effects on dead wood volumes. Although all of the scenarios led to decreasing levels of dead wood, the scenario aimed at species conservation led to highest volumes of dead wood (about 10 m3 ha-1) and highest connectivity of dead wood patches (mean proximity index of 78), whilst the scenario aimed at reaching zero fossil fuel targets led to the lowest levels (about 8 m3 ha-1) and least connectivity (mean proximity index of 7). Our simulations stress that further exploitation of dead wood from sites where volumes are already below suggested habitat thresholds for saproxylic species will very likely have further negative effects on dead wood dependent species.