Wednesday, 7 September 2011

RSPB on woodfuel and bioenergy

Stevens Croft is owned and operated by E.ON Climate
and Renewables and is the UK’s largest wood fired
biomass station producing 44 MW of clean electricity
 The RSPB has released a report that looks at the impact on increasing domestic demand for woodfuel on overseas habitats.

The report highlights the number of biomass power stations currently in the planning process which, when built, could increase demand for fuel significantly and lead to an increase in the use of imported wood.

The RSPB's report is hot on the heels of the Renewable Energy Association's (REA) recently launched 'Back Biomass' campaign which calls for a long-term approach to the Government's commitment to biomass heat and power.

Whilst the RSPB and REA are perhaps looking at the biomass 'opportunity' from two different perspectives they both acknowledge the critical role to be played by 'sustainable' harvesting.  By this they mean that woodfuel can be produced, domestically or otherwise, at a rate that does not jeopardise the source woodland or forest.

The RSPB favour an " increase in the use of domestic wood fuel as a result of thinning out poorly managed and overly dense woodlands...".  However, they warn against the overuse of biomass energy generating technologies. 

Whilst the REA is far bolder in its support of biomass energy it acknowledges that sustainable feedstock is also critical:

"Carefully planned woodland management, carried out by experienced professional foresters creates healthier, better structured woodlands with greater growth and increased biodiversity. Woodland in England is often ‘unmanaged’ because no attractive markets exist for the wood products of a managed forest."

The REA also recognise the fact that woodfuel is a market-based opportunity for the forestry sector:

"By supporting the biomass industry, the real market value of sustainable biomass sources will be realised and the sustainability and biodiversity of the UK’s forests can be enhanced."

The Kent Downs Woodfuel Pathfinder welcomes both the RSPB report and the REA campaign.  The Pathfinder project has always promoted sustainable woodland management alongside biomass energy and is actively supporting woodland owners and users biomass technology to ensure that biomass feedstocks are sustainable.

For support with woodland management, woodfuel and biomass heating please contact

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