Biogenic CO2 fluxes, changes in surface albedo and biodiversity impacts from establishment of a miscanthus plantation

Susanne Vedel Jørgensen, Francesco Cherubini, Ottar Michelsen

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    Depletion in oil resources and environmental concern related to the use of fossil fuels has increased the interest in using second generation biomass as alternative feedstock for fuels and materials. However, the land use and land use change for producing second generation (2G) biomass impacts the environment in various ways, of which not all are usually considered in life cycle assessment.This study assesses the biogenic CO2 fluxes, surface albedo changes and biodiversity impacts for 100 years after changing land use from forest or fallow land to miscanthus plantation in Wisconsin, US. Climate change impacts are addressed in terms of effective forcing, a mid-point indicator which can be used to compare impacts from biogenic CO2 fluxes and albedo changes. Biodiversity impacts are assessed through elaboration on two different existing approaches, to express the change in biodiversity impact from one human influenced state to another.Concerning the impacts from biogenic CO2 fluxes, in the case of conversion from a forest to a miscanthus plantation (case A) there is a contribution to global warming, whereas when a fallow land is converted (case B), there is a climate cooling. When the effects from albedo changes are included, both scenarios show a net cooling impact, which is more pronounced in case B. Both cases reduce biodiversity in the area where the miscanthus plantation is established, though most in case A.The results illustrate the relevance of these issues when considering environmental impacts of land use and land use change. The apparent trade-offs in terms of environmental impacts further highlight the importance of including these aspects in LCA of land use and land use changes, in order to enable informed decision making.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Environmental Management
    Pages (from-to)346-354
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


    • Land use change (LUC) impacts
    • Climate change
    • Effective forcing
    • 2G biomass feedstock
    • Life cycle assessment (LCA)

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