Estimating New Zealand’s harvested wood products carbon stocks and stock changes

Posted on 22.05.2020 - 03:31
Abstract Background Reducing net greenhouse gas emissions through conserving existing forest carbon stocks and encouraging additional uptake of carbon in existing and new forests have become important climate change mitigation tools. The contribution of harvested wood products (HWPs) to increasing carbon uptake has been recognised and approaches to quantifying this pool developed. In New Zealand, harvesting has more than doubled since 1990 while log exports have increased by a factor of 11 due to past afforestation and comparatively little expansion in domestic processing. This paper documents New Zealand’s application of the IPCC approaches for reporting contributions of the HWP pool to net emissions, in order to meet international greenhouse gas inventory reporting requirements. We examine the implications of the different approaches and assumptions used in calculating the HWP contribution and highlight model limitations. Results Choice of system boundary has a large impact for a country with a small domestic market and significant HWP exports. Under the Production approach used for New Zealand’s greenhouse gas inventory reporting, stock changes in planted forests and in HWPs both rank highly as key categories. The contribution from HWPs is even greater under the Atmospheric Flow approach, because emissions from exported HWPs are not included. Conversely the Stock Change approach minimises the contribution of HWPs because the domestic market is small. The use of country-specific data to backfill the time series from 1900 to 1960 has little impact but using country-specific parameters in place of IPCC defaults results in a smaller HWP sink for New Zealand. This is because of the dominance of plantation forestry based on a softwood mainly used in relatively short-lived products. Conclusions The NZ HWP Model currently meets international inventory reporting requirements. Further disaggregation of the semi-finished HWP end uses both within New Zealand and in export markets is required to improve accuracy. Product end-uses and lifespans need to be continually assessed to capture changes. More extensive analyses that include the benefits of avoided emissions through product substitution and life cycle emissions from the forestry sector are required to fully assess the contribution of forests and forest products to climate change mitigation and a low emissions future.


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Wakelin, Stephen J.; Searles, Nigel; Lawrence, Daniel; Paul, Thomas S. H. (2020): Estimating New Zealand’s harvested wood products carbon stocks and stock changes. figshare. Collection.


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