Biofuels & Forest Soil Carbon

Biofuels & Forest Soil Carbon


Using Forest Residues Reduces Soil Carbon Stock


ScienceDaily (May 21, 2008) – The use of harvest 

residues for energy production decreases soil 

carbon stocks. These changes in soil carbon 

stocks are remarkable compared to the other 

greenhouse gas emissions caused by the use of 

forest residues for energy. On a national scale, 

soil carbon stocks play an important role in 

forest carbon balances.


Changes in soil carbon stock need to be assessed 

reliably and transparently because we need more 

information on the effects of climate change and 

forest management on soil carbon. This is also 

stressed by climate conventions which have set 

practical reporting requirements for changes in 

soil carbon stock.


The large spatial variability of soil carbon goes 

together with relatively slow changes in stocks, 

which, in turn, hinders the assessment of soil 

carbon stocks and their changes by direct 

measurements. Models therefore widely serve to 

estimate carbon stocks and stock changes in soils.


A recent doctoral thesis developed and tested the 

soil carbon model YASSO for upland forest soils. 

The model was aimed to take into account the most 

important processes controlling the decomposition 

in soils, yet remain simple enough to ensure its 

practical applicability in different 

applications. The model was applied to study the 

effects of intensified biomass extraction on the 

forest carbon balance, to estimate the effects of 

soil carbon deficit on net greenhouse gas 

emissions of energy use of forest residues and to 

assess the national scale forest carbon balance 

for Finland’s forests.


YASSO managed to describe sufficiently the 

effects of both the variable litter and climatic 

conditions on decomposition. When combined with 

the stand models or other systems providing 

litter information, the dynamic approach of the 

model proved to be powerful for estimating 

changes in soil carbon stocks on different scales.


Journal reference:


    1. Liski, J., Palosuo, T., Peltoniemi, M. & 

Sievänen, R., 2005. Carbon and decomposition 

model Yasso for forest soils. Ecological 

Modelling 189(1-2): 168-182. 





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