Bioenergy production in Canada’s forestry sector: a soils perspective
Presented by Dr. Nathan Basiliko
Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor at the Vale Living with Lakes Centre and the Department of Biology at Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
Canada’s forestry sector collectively represents the largest industrial-scale producer of bioenergy nationally. There is interest in enhancing biomass energy production capacities to both reduce fossil fuel demands as well as build new markets for the forestry sector, which has faced challenges in the past 2 decades. Current best forest management practices in Canada are generally sustainable; however the costs and benefits of intensified biomass harvesting to supply additional feedstocks for bioenergy production are not clear. In particular, intensified harvesting effects on soil biota and associated carbon and nutrient cycling that are at the heart forest ecosystem functioning remain to be determined. Here I will present findings from collaborative research trials and interrelated student-led projects focussed on ecosystem-level implications of bioenergy production in commercially managed Ontario forests. Two trials, one in boreal and the other in north-temperate (Great Lakes St. Lawrence) forests, have explored impacts of both business-as-usual harvesting and varying levels of intensified biomass harvesting. Additionally, trials near the same sites are examining the potential to return biomass boiler (wood ash) and pyrolysis (biochar) residues to soils with the intent of mitigating some of the potential negative impacts of intensified harvesting. The main emphasis of this presentation is on soil biotic (microbial communities and soil vertebrate indicator species) and biogeochemical responses to both intensified biomass removal practices as well as potential mitigation measures.
Everyone welcome. Coffee provided.
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1