The potential of primary forestry residues as a bioenergy source: the technical and environmental constraints
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In a world of increasing energy demand, facing the consequences of the use of fossil fuels and its finite supply, the world’s population is challenged to find alternative energy sources. forestry residues are among the bioenergy sources showing prospects for providing a future substantial share of the global biomass supply. However, it is unsure what is its energy potential nor is it sure how much can be removed from the forest without affecting the ecosystem. The present work shows that the large spectrum of potential estimations found in the literature is due to the use of distinct definitions, databases, geographical scales and methodologies. In particular, relying on distinct databases has proved to have a great impact on the final estimation. Regarding the sustainability of forestry residues removal, it is widely acknowledged that it can potentially increase soil erosion, disturb the nitrogen cycle, deplete the forest's carbon pool and endanger the biodiversity. These environmental risks can be considerably avoid or decreased if the removal intensity allows the ecosystem to be resilient and return to its original sate. Moreover, some management recommendations should be respected such as leaving the leaves, the needles, the stumps and the roots on site.