Sustainability impacts of increased forest biomass feedstock supply – a comparative assessment of technological solution

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Sustainably managed forests provide renewable raw material that can be used for primary/secondary conversion products and as biomass for energy generation. The potentially available amounts of timber, which are still lower than annual increments, have been published earlier. Access to this timber can be challenging for small-dimensioned assortments; however, technologically improved value chains can make them accessible while fulfilling economic and environment criteria. This paper evaluates the economic, environmental and social sustainability impacts of making the potentially available timber available with current and technologically improved value chains. This paper focuses on increasing the biomass feedstock supply for energy generation. Quantified impact assessments show which improvements – in terms of costs, employment, fuel and energy use, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – can be expected if better mechanized machines are provided. Using three different methods – Sustainability Impacts Assessment (SIA), Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and Emission Saving Criteria (ESC) – we calculated current and innovative machine solutions in terms of fuel use, energy use, and greenhouse gas emissions, to quantify the impact of the technology choice and also the effect of the choice of assessment method. Absolute stand-alone values can be misleading in analyses, and the use of different impact calculation approaches in parallel is clarifying the limits of using LCA-based approaches. The ESC has been discussed for the recast of the Renewable Energy Directive. Potential EU-wide results are presented.

This article has EFI researchers Dr Diana Tuomasjukka and Dr Marcus Lindner, as well as Dr Salvatore Martire, a former EFI staff member. Also our network of member organisations is well represented in the author list. This work was supported by research of the INFRES project (, which received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2012-2015) under grant agreement n°311881, and from S2Biom project which is co-funded by the European Commission in the Seventh Framework Programme (Project No. FP7-608622), as well as from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 20757 “TECH4EFFECT”.


Full reference
Diana Tuomasjukka, Salvatore Martire, Marcus Lindner, Dimitris Athanassiadis, Martin Kühmaier, Jan Tumajer, Martijn Vis, Raffaele Spinelli, Matthias Dees, Robert Prinz, Johanna Routa & Antti Asikainen (2018) Sustainability impacts of increased forest biomass feedstock supply – a comparative assessment of technological solutions, International Journal of Forest Engineering, DOI: 10.1080/14942119.2018.1459372