The role of short-rotation woody crops in sustainable development
The role of short-rotation woody crops in sustainable development One answer to increase wood production is by increasing management intensity on existing timberland, especially in plantation forests. Another is to convert land currently in agriculture to timberland. Short-rotation woody crops can be used in both cases. But, what are the environmental consequences? Short-rotation woody crops can provide a net improvement in environmental quality at both local and global scales. Conversion of agricultural land to short-rotation woody crops can provide the most environmental quality enhancement by reducing erosion, improving soil quality, decreasing runoff, improving groundwater quality, and providing better wildlife habitat. Forest products companies can use increased production from intensively managed short-rotation woody crop systems to offset decreased yield from the portion of their timberland that is managed less intensively, e.g. streamside management zones and other ecologically sensitive or unique areas. At the global scale, use of short-rotation woody crops for bioenergy is part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gases produced by burning fossil fuels. Incorporating short-rotation woody crops into the agricultural landscape also increases storage of carbon in the soil, thus reducing atmospheric concentrations. In addition, use of wood instead of alternatives such as steel, concrete, and plastics generally consumes less energy and produces less greenhouse gases. Cooperative more »
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