iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Carbon neutrality of forest biomass for bioenergy: a scoping review

Egor Selivanov (1-2), Pavel Cudlín (1), Petr Horáček (3)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 16, Issue 2, Pages 70-77 (2023)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor4160-015
Published: Mar 05, 2023 - Copyright © 2023 SISEF

Review Papers

The exploitation of forest biomass for bioenergy is commonly perceived as part of a broad strategy for climate change mitigation due to the view that forest biomass is carbon neutral. The aims of this study are to distinguish the most widely used definition of carbon neutrality and to identify the most frequently discussed aspects of the concept of carbon neutrality. This research is conducted in the form of a scoping review. The results of the scoping review demonstrated that there is no generally accepted definition of carbon neutrality. Eight main concepts of carbon neutrality were identified. The most frequently discussed aspects of the carbon neutrality concept were temporal and spatial boundaries, scenario-based assumptions, and the source of biomass feedstock. This research provides a comprehensive summary of the concept of carbon neutrality and contributes to the debate regarding forest biomass exploitation for bioenergy.


Bioenergy, Biofuels, Carbon Cycle, Climate Change, Forest Residues, Life Cycle Assessment

Authors’ address

Egor Selivanov 0000-0002-5001-3163
Pavel Cudlín 0000-0003-1464-5160
Department of Ecosystem Functional Analysis of the Landscape, Global Change Research Institute CAS, Belidla 986/4a, 603 00, Brno (Czech Republic)
Egor Selivanov 0000-0002-5001-3163
Department of Forest Ecology, Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology, Mendel University in Brno, Zemedelska 3, 613 00, Brno (Czech Republic)
Petr Horáček 0000-0002-7097-4877
Department of Xylogenesis and Biomass Allocation, Global Change Research Institute CAS, Belidla 986/4a, 603 00, Brno (Czech Republic)

Corresponding author


Selivanov E, Cudlín P, Horáček P (2023). Carbon neutrality of forest biomass for bioenergy: a scoping review. iForest 16: 70-77. - doi: 10.3832/ifor4160-015

Academic Editor

Giorgio Alberti

Paper history

Received: Jun 17, 2022
Accepted: Dec 10, 2022

First online: Mar 05, 2023
Publication Date: Apr 30, 2023
Publication Time: 2.83 months

Breakdown by View Type

(Waiting for server response...)

Article Usage

Total Article Views: 644
(from publication date up to now)

Breakdown by View Type
HTML Page Views: 0
Abstract Page Views: 0
PDF Downloads: 504
Citation/Reference Downloads: 0
XML Downloads: 140

Web Metrics
Days since publication: 448
Overall contacts: 644
Avg. contacts per week: 10.06

Article Citations

Article citations are based on data periodically collected from the Clarivate Web of Science web site
(last update: Nov 2020)

(No citations were found up to date. Please come back later)


Publication Metrics

by Dimensions ©

Articles citing this article

List of the papers citing this article based on CrossRef Cited-by.

Abatzoglou JT, Williams P (2016)
Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests. Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences 113 (42): 11770-11775.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Agostini A, Giuntoli J, Boulamanti A (2014)
Carbon accounting of forest bioenergy: conclusions and recommendations from a critical literature review (Marelli L ed). EUR 25354 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, pp. 86.
Online | Gscholar
Agostini A, Moomaw WR, Searchinger T (2017)
Why the IEA Bioenergy Group got it wrong concerning the Chatham House report. EU Bioenergy - The Cost of Burning, web site, pp. 4.
Online | Gscholar
Amato VJW, Lightfoot D, Stropki C, Pease M (2013)
Relationships between tree stand density and burn severity as measured by the Composite Burn Index following a ponderosa pine forest wildfire in the American Southwest. Forest Ecology and Management 302: 71-84.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Arksey H, O’Malley L (2005)
Scoping studies: towards a methodological framework. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 8 (1): 19-32.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Berndes G, Abt B, Asikainen A, Cowie A, Dale V, Egnell G, Lindner M, Marelli L, Paré D, Pingoud K, Yeh S (2016)
Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation. From Science to Policy 3, European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland, pp. 28.
Online | Gscholar
BP (2021)
BP: Statistical review of world energy 2021 (70th edn). BP, London, UK, pp. 69.
Online | Gscholar
Brack D (2017a)
Woody biomass for power and heat: Impacts on the global climate. Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, UK, pp. 70.
Online | Gscholar
Brack D (2017b)
The impacts of the demand for woody biomass for power and heat on climate and forests. Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, UK, pp. 16.
Online | Gscholar
Bracmort K (2016)
Is biopower carbon neutral? Congressional Research Service, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 12.
Cherubini F, Stromman AH (2011)
Life cycle assessment of bioenergy systems: state of the art and future challenges. Bioresource Technology 102 (2): 437-451.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Cowie A, Berndes G, Junginger M, Ximenes F (2017)
Response to Chatham House report “Woody biomass for power and heat: impacts on the global climate”. IEA Bioenergy, web site, pp. 14.
Online | Gscholar
Diehl C, Walloe L, Norton M (2020)
May 13). IEA Bioenergy critique of EASAC publications on forest bioenergy. European Academy, Science Advisory Council - EASAC, Brussels, Belgium, pp. 8.
Online | Gscholar
EC (2009)
Directive 2009/28/EC of the European parliament and of the council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC. Official Journal of the European Union, Brussel, Belgium.
Online | Gscholar
EC (2018)
Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources. Official Journal of the European Union, Brussel, Belgium.
Online | Gscholar
EEA (2011)
Opinion of the EEA Scientific Committee on greenhouse gas accounting in relation to bioenergy. European Environment Agency Scientific Committee - EEA, Copenhagen, Denmark, pp. 10.
Online | Gscholar
Flannigan MD, Amiro BD, Logan KA, Stocks BJ, Wotton BM (2006)
Forest fires and climate change in the 21st century. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 11: 847-859.
CrossRef | Gscholar
FSG (2015)
Recommendations on biomass carbon neutrality. World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Forest Solutions Group - FSG, Geneva, Switzerland, pp. 30.
Haberl H, Sprinz D, Bonazountas M, Cocco P, Desaubies Y, Henze M, Hertel O, Johnson R, Kastrup U, Laconte P, Lange E, Novak P, Paavola J, Reenberg A, Van Den Hove S, Vermeire T, Wadhams P, Searchinger T (2012)
Correcting a fundamental error in greenhouse gas accounting related to bioenergy. Energy Policy 45: 18-23.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Hektor B, Backeus S, Andersson K (2016)
Carbon balance for wood production from sustainably managed forests. Biomass and Bioenergy 93: 1-5.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Helin T, Sokka L, Soimakallio S, Pingoud K, Pajula T (2013)
Approaches for inclusion of forest carbon cycle in Life Cycle Assessment - A review. GCB Bioenergy 5: 475-486.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Holtsmark B (2012)
Harvesting in boreal forests and the biofuel carbon debt. Climatic Change 112 (2): 415-428.
CrossRef | Gscholar
IEA (2019)
The use of forest biomass for climate change mitigation: response to statements of EASAC. International Energy Agency - IEA, Paris, France, pp. 6.
Online | Gscholar
IPCC (2014)
Climate change 2014: synthesis report. In: “Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report” (Pachauri RK, Meyer LA eds). Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - IPCC, Geneva, Switzerland, pp. 151.
IPCC (2022)
Climate change 2022: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Pörtner H-O, Roberts DC, Tignor M, Poloczanska ES, Mintenbeck K, Alegría A, Craig M, Langsdorf S, Löschke S, Möller V, Okem A, Rama B eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, pp. 3056.
ISO (2006)
ISO 14044:2006 environmental management - life cycle assessment - principles and framework. International Organization for Standardization - ISO, London, UK, pp. 20.
Littell D (2016)
Meta-issues related to carbon footprint of biomass used for energy production. Working paper, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, The Regulatory Assistance Project, Montpelier, VT, USA, pp. 19.
Liu W, Yu Z, Xie X, Von Gadow K, Peng C (2018)
A critical analysis of the carbon neutrality assumption in life cycle assessment of forest bioenergy systems. Environmental Reviews 26 (1): 93-10.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Madrigal J, Fernandez-Miguelanez I, Hernando C, Guijarro M, Vega-Nieva DJ, Tolosana E (2017)
Does forest biomass harvesting for energy reduce fire hazard in the Mediterranean basin? A case study in the Caroig Massif (Eastern Spain). European Journal of Forest Research 136: 13-26.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Malmsheimer RW, Bowyer J, Fried J, Gee E, Izlar R, Miner R, Munn I, Oneil E, Stewart W (2011)
Managing forests because carbon matters: integrating energy, products, and land management policy. Journal of Forestry 109 (7): S7-S51.
Online | Gscholar
Martin-Gamboa M, Marques P, Freire F, Arroja L, Dias AC (2020)
Life cycle assessment of biomass pellets: a review of methodological choices and results. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 133.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Matthews R, Hogan G, Mackie E (2018)
Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU: supplementary analysis and interpretation for the European Climate Foundation. The Research Agency of the Forestry Commission, Cheadle Heath, Cheshire, UK, pp. 61.
MCCS (2010)
Massachusetts biomass sustainability and carbon policy study. Report to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (Walker T ed). Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences - MCCS, Natural Capital Initiative, Brunswick, ME, USA, pp. 182.
Munn Z, Peters MD, Stern C, Tufanaru C, McArthur A, Aromataris E (2018)
Systematic review or scoping review? Guidance for authors when choosing between a systematic or scoping review approach. BMC Medical Research Methodoly 18 (1): 143.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Musule R, Bonales-Revuelta J, Mwampamba T, Gallardo-Alvarez R, Masera O, Garcia C (2021)
Life cycle assessment of forest-derived solid biofuels: a systematic review of the literature. BioEnergy Research: 1-22.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Muys B, Masiero M, Achten WMJ (2014)
Sustainability issues of using forests as a bioenergy resource. In: “What Science Can Tell Us 4 - Forest Bioenergy for Europe” (Pelkonen P, Mustonen M, Asikainen A, Egnell G, Kant P, Leduc S, Pettenella D eds). European Forest Institute, Joensuu, Finland, pp. 90-97.
Nabuurs GJ, Arets EJMM, Schelhaas MJ (2017)
European forests show no carbon debt, only a long parity effect. Forest Policy and Economics 75: 120-125.
CrossRef | Gscholar
NCASI (2011)
Carbon neutrality. National Council for Air and Stream Improvement - NCASI, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA, web site.
Online | Gscholar
NCASI (2013)
A review of biomass carbon accounting methods and implications. Technical Bulletin no. 1015, National Council for Air and Stream Improvement - NCASI, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA, pp. 33.
NOAA (2022)
Trends in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Global Monitoring Laboratory, Earth System Research Laboratories, web site.
Online | Gscholar
Norton M, Baldi A, Buda V, Carli B, Cudlin P, Jones MB, Korhola A, Michalski R, Novo F, Oszlányi J, Duarte Santos F, Schink B, Shepherd J, Vet L, Walloe L, Wijkman A (2019)
Serious mismatches continue between science and policy in forest bioenergy. Global Change Biology 11 (11): 1256-1263.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Peters MDJ, Godfrey CM, Khalil H, McInerney P, Parker D, Soares CB (2015)
Guidance for conducting systematic scoping reviews. International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare 13 (3): 141-146.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Reinhardt E, Holsinger L (2010)
Effects of fuel treatments on carbon-disturbance relationships in forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. Forest Ecology and Management 259: 1427-1435.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Robinne F-N, Hallemab DW, Bladon KD, Buttle JM (2020)
Wildfire impacts on hydrologic ecosystem services in North American high latitude forests: a scoping review. Journal of Hydrology 581: 124360.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Searchinger T, Hamburg S, Melillo J, Chameides W, Havlik P, Kammen D, Likens G, Lubowski R, Oberstainer M, Oppenheimer M, Robertson G, Schlesinger W, Tilman G (2009)
Fixing a critical climate accounting error. Science 326 (5952): 527-528.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Sedjo R, Tian X (2012)
Does wood bioenergy increase carbon stocks in forests? Journal of Forestry 110 (6): 304-311.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Sedjo R (2011)
Carbon neutrality and bioenergy: a zero-sum game? Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 9.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Sedjo R (2013)
Comparative life cycle assessments: carbon neutrality and wood biomass energy. DP 13-11, Resources for the Future, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 16.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Statista (2022)
Area burned by forest and wildland fires in Europe as of October 2022, with average for 2006 to 2021, by country. Statista GmbH, Hamburg, Germany, web site.
Online | Gscholar
Ter-Mikaelian MT, Colombo SJ, Chen J (2015)
The burning question: does forest bioenergy reduce carbon emissions? A review of common misconceptions about forest carbon accounting. Journal of Forestry 113 (1): 57-68.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Timmons DS, Buchholz T, Veeneman CH (2016)
Forest biomass energy: assessing atmospheric carbon impacts by discounting future carbon flows. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 8 (3): 631-643.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Tricco AC, Lillie E, Zarin W, O’Brien KK, Colquhoun H, Levac D, Moher D, Peters MD, Horsley T, Weeks L, Hempel S, Akl EA, Chang C, Mcgowan J, Stewart L, Hartling L, Aldcroft A, Wilson MG, Garritty C, Lewin S, Godfrey CM, Macdonald MT, Langlois EV, Soares-Weiser K, Moriarty J, Clifford T, Tunçalp Ö, Straus SE (2018)
PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR): checklist and explanation. Annals of Internal Medicine 169 (7): 467-473.
CrossRef | Gscholar
UNFCCC (2020)
National Inventory Submissions 2020. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC, web site.
Online | Gscholar
UNFCCC (2022)
The Paris Agreement. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - UNFCCC, web site.
Online | Gscholar
Vanhala P, Repo A, Liski J (2013)
Forest bioenergy at the cost of carbon sequestration? Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 5 (1): 41-46.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Wolf C, Klein D, Weber-Blaschke G, Richter K (2015)
Systematic review and meta-analysis of life cycle assessments for wood energy services. Journal of Industrial Ecology 20 (4): 743-763.
CrossRef | Gscholar
Zanchi G, Pena N, Bird N (2010)
The upfront carbon debt of bioenergy. European Federation for Transport and Environment, Graz, Austria, pp. 54.
Zanchi G, Pena N, Bird N (2012)
Is woody bioenergy carbon neutral? A comparative assessment of emissions from consumption of woody bioenergy and fossil fuel. Global Change Biology Bioenergy 4 (6): 761-772.
CrossRef | Gscholar

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. More info