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UK Should Investigate its Sourcing for Biomass from Estonia

Clearcutting for biomass in Kurgja, Pärnu county, Estonia (C) Karl Adami

A new evaluation revealed by Cut Carbon Not Forests — a coalition of which NRDC is an lively member –reveals that wooden pellets imported into the UK from Estonia to burn for soiled biomass power possible violates the UK’s legally binding sustainability standards.

To attempt to make sure its imported biomass (i.e., wooden pellets) doesn’t hurt the surroundings within the nations the place it’s logged, the UK has sustainability standards for biomass that require, amongst different issues, that the wooden pellet sourcing minimise hurt to ecosystems and keep biodiversity.

However, this new report – which relies on investigations performed by Greenpeace Netherlands and Estonian Fund for Nature (amongst others) – means that logging for biomass in Estonian forests might violate these requirements by utilizing harmful practices equivalent to:

  • Logging in protected areas (together with these protected below Estonian legislation and people designated as Natura 2000 reserves);
  • Damage to watersheds round rivers and streams;
  • Damage to carbon-rich peat soils;
  • Logging in ways in which hurt biodiversity (together with clearcutting and different sorts of dangerous logging in habitat for species protected below EU and/or Estonian legislation attributable to their imperiled standing); and
  • Logging of culturally important bushes.

Estonian wooden pellets enter the UK biomass provide chain largely by way of imports from Graanul Invest (Estonia’s largest pellet producer) to Drax (the UK’s largest biomass energy station and largest polluter!). Since 2018, Drax has imported wooden pellets from Estonia, with over half of such imports coming from entire, standing bushes—a class of biomass that scientists have concluded is especially high-carbon. In 2021, entire bushes accounted for 59% of Drax’s imports from Estonia, regardless of trade claims that they solely burn wooden pellets produced from the leftovers of logging.

Even Estonia’s most extremely protected forests haven’t escaped the rampant logging for wooden pellets.  Between 2001 and 2019, Estonia’s Natura 2000 areas misplaced an space nearly the scale of Manchester, due partly to biomass manufacturing. While the Estonian authorities not too long ago claimed to have suspended logging for simply over two years in these reserves, this moratorium solely covers forests particularly protected as uncommon forest habitats (about 11% of forested land in Natura 2000 areas). As such, the ban doesn’t apply to logging in most (89%) Natura 2000 forests, which means the biomass trade continues to pillage a few of Europe’s most prized pure areas.

This intensive and expansive logging is harming Estonia’s wildlife, together with uncommon species of birds, moss, fungi, and lichens. This consists of species protected below each Estonian and EU legislation, just like the three-toed woodpecker and the capercaillie, the latter of which has declined by 30% over the past 20 years.

What is the usage of sustainability requirements if they permit the clearcutting of a few of our planet’s most treasured pure areas? The UK Government ought to instantly conduct a direct investigation of biomass sourcing Estonia for the UK power market, to find out whether or not such imports adjust to present biomass legal guidelines and halt all imports of wooden pellets produced in or utilizing wooden from Estonia till this investigation has been accomplished. And, in the meantime, it ought to cease subsidising the biomass trade with over £1 billion per 12 months. An trade that contributes to this type of devastation is clearly unfit of invoice payers’ cash.

#Investigate #Sourcing #Biomass #Estonia

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