Forest biomass has an ecological value that must be considered, she said. If forest residues are removed to produce bioenergy, then the forest system is deprived of carbon and nutrients, and “you will impact the forest ecosystem.”
Negative consequences of removing biomass from the forest system include lowering the soil’s capacity to retain nutrients. Potential impacts on tree growth are not clear, but over the long term, intensive harvesting usually has a destructive effect. And if tree growth is harmed, then there is a negative economic impact. Depending on how Canada’s bioenergy industry develops, those negative consequences can be prevented, Thiffault said.