Production of greenhouse gases by logging residue in boreal clear-cut forests

Antti Laihonen*, Sanni L. Aalto, Mari Pihlatie, Marja Tiirola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Forest deadwood is an important carbon reserve, estimated to contain 8% of the total forest carbon. This type of woody debris is recognized as a source of carbon dioxide (CO2), as the carbon is released back into the atmosphere by microbial decomposition. Production of methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) has also been reported. In managed forests, logging residues form a major source of fine deadwood, but its role in the greenhouse gas exchange of forest ecosystems is poorly understood. We studied the greenhouse gas production of spruce and birch left-over fine woody debris and estimated the residence time of these residues at 18 spruce-dominated boreal forest sites in Central Finland. The study areas consisted of clear-cut forest stands, totally covering approximately 47 hectares, with logging residue ages varying between 0 and 10 years. The research was carried out over eight months from May to December 2019. We observed that CO2 dominated the greenhouse gas production of the logging residues, with the production being regulated by air temperature, tree species, residue age, and wood moisture. Emission of CO2 continued throughout the research period with a clear seasonal pattern. Production of CH4 and N2O was also observed, but not in climatically-relevant amounts. Deadwood half-life was estimated at 18 years for spruce and 9 years for birch. Our study demonstrates that logging residues form a mid-term carbon reserve and suggests that global warming could reduce the lifetime of the residues as a result of elevated and temperature-dependent CO2 release in the studied Myrtillus type forest stands.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Number of pages15
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Deadwood
  • Decomposition
  • Fine woody debris
  • Methane
  • Picea abies


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