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Simulation of forest-based carbon balances for Germany: a contribution to the"carbon debt" debate

The aim of this paper is to estimate the future carbon balance of wood use in Germany combining a national forest inventory data-driven forest growth model with information about German harvested wood products markets and taking into account material and energy substitution effects. In a scenario analysis, we assess impacts of different forest management options, change of market share of harvested wood products as well as changes of the national energy mix. Additionally, the model settings and assumptions that predominantly determine the results are identified and discussed. The simulation results show that only a radical change of forest management in Germany would cause net carbon emissions. The continuation of current forest management or a higher share of high yield tree species as well as a change of market shares of wood and wood products would result in a net carbon sequestration in German forest and harvested wood products carbon pools. Considering substitution effects, even the net carbon emissions of a radically changed forest management would be over compensated and the carbon balance of all other scenarios would become even more positive. Looking at the most decisive factors regarding our simulation results, the initial treatment of the forest carbon pool, the starting year for the simulations and the present forest structure are most crucial for further accumulated net carbon pool changes.



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