Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Comparing Life-Cycle Carbon and Energy Impacts for Biofuel, Wood Product, and Forest Management


Bruce Lippke
Richard Gustafson
Richard Venditti
Philip Steele
Timothy A. Volk
Elaine Oneil
Leonard Johnson
Maureen E. Puettmann



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Forest Products Laboratory


Forest Prod. J. Volume 62, Number 4, pp 247–257; 2012.


The different uses of wood result in a hierarchy of carbon and energy impacts that can be characterized by their efficiency in displacing carbon emissions and/or in displacing fossil energy imports, both being current national objectives. When waste wood is used for biofuels (forest or mill residuals and thinnings) fossil fuels and their emissions are reduced without significant land use changes. Short rotation woody crops can increase yields and management efficiencies by using currently underused land. Wood products and biofuels are coproducts of sustainable forest management, along with the other values forests provide, such as clean air, water, and habitat. Producing multiple coproducts with different uses that result in different values complicates carbon mitigation accounting. It is important to understand how the life-cycle implications of managing our forests and using the wood coming from our forests impacts national energy and carbon emission objectives and other forest values. A series of articles published in this issue of the Forest Products Journal reports on the life-cycle implications of producing ethanol by gasification or fermentation and producing bio-oil by pyrolysis and feedstock collection from forest residuals, thinnings, and short rotation woody crops. These are evaluated and compared with other forest product uses. Background information is provided on existing life-cycle data and methods to evaluate prospective new processes and wood uses. Alternative management, processing, and collection methods are evaluated for their different efficiencies in contributing to national objectives.


Lippke, Bruce; Gustafson, Richard; Venditti, Richard; Steele, Philip; Volk, Timothy A.; Oneil, Elaine; Johnson, Leonard; Puettmann, Maureen E.; Skog, Kenneth. 2012. Comparing life-cycle carbon and energy impacts for biofuel, wood product, and forest management. Forest Products Journal 62(4): 247–257.

Publication Notes

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.