Analele Universităţii din Oradea: Seria Geografie (Sep 2016)
FORESTS: BETWEEN ENERGY DEMAND AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES. AN EMERGY ASSESSMENT OF FORESTRY STOCKS AS THE MAIN SOURCE OF THERMAL FUEL IN THE MARA RIVER WATERSHED, MARAMUREȘ COUNTY, ROMANIA
Nature builds resilience through storages of energy and one of the most iconic elements encompassing this capacity is represented by forests. Biomass in general and forests in particular are known to be one of the vast global reservoirs of carbon and energy and are described as forms of renewable natural capital that managed until the second half of the ninetieth century to globally sustain human communities as the major source of energy. Forests actively contribute to the functionality of a territorial system through a series of attributes such as water retention capacity, soil and slope stability, primary production capacity, all termed ecosystem services, benefits that communities take for granted. In more remote rural areas around the world, such as the Carpathian Mara River watershed, local communities still rely on forestry wood as the main supplier of thermal energy. The dependency relation also represents the community’s level of perception towards natural resources, the landmarks and image of the entire Land of Maramureș as „the wood civilisation”, for example, being a cultural construct build through this energetic resource. In a time of pressure over energetic resources and following the premises of Emergy Theory and methodology, in this paper we propose an alternative approach in assessing natural resources in order to better understand that the exploitable energetic value of forests comes second when compared with the value of the provided ecosystem services.