Impact of bioenergy production on ecosystem dynamics and services-a case study on U.K. heathlands

Elias Martinez-Hernandez, Matthew Leach, Aidong Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


For sustainability's sake, the establishment of bioenergy production can no longer overlook the interactions between ecosystem and technological processes, to ensure the preservation of ecosystem functions that provide energy and other goods and services to the human being. In this paper, a bioenergy production system based on heathland biomass is investigated with the aim to explore how a system dynamics approach can help to analyze the impact of bioenergy production on ecosystem dynamics and services and vice versa. The effect of biomass harvesting on the heathland dynamics, ecosystem services such as biomass production and carbon capture, and its capacity to balance nitrogen inputs from atmospheric deposition and nitrogen recycling were analyzed. Harvesting was found to be beneficial for the maintenance of the heathland ecosystem if the biomass cut fraction is higher than 0.2 but lower than 0.6, but this will depend on the specific conditions of nitrogen deposition and nitrogen recycling. With 95% recycling of nitrogen, biomass production was increased by up to 25% for a cut fraction of 0.4, but at the expense of higher nitrogen accumulation and the system being less capable to withstand high atmospheric nitrogen deposition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5805-5812
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2015


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