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Protected forests in Europe felled to meet EU renewable targets – report

February 23, 2017

By Paul Homewood




In the light of the new study today from Chatham House, which shows that burning biomass is simply leading to increased emissions of CO2, it is worth recalling similar findings in a study by Birdlife three months ago.

From the Guardian:


Protected forests are being indiscriminately felled across Europe to meet the EU’s renewable energy targets, according to an investigation by the conservation group Birdlife.

Up to 65% of Europe’s renewable output currently comes from bioenergy, involving fuels such as wood pellets and chips, rather than wind and solar power.

Bioenergy fuel is supposed to be harvested from residue such as forest waste but, under current legislation, European bioenergy plants do not have to produce evidence that their wood products have been sustainably sourced.

Birdlife found logging taking place in conservation zones such as Poloniny national park in eastern Slovakia and in Italian riverside forests around Emilia-Romagna, where it said it had been falsely presented as flood-risk mitigation.

Leaked figures show spike in palm oil use for biodiesel in Europe


In Slovakia, the drive to reach the EU’s renewable energy targets has seen a 72% increase in the use of wood for bioenergy since 2007, according to Birdlife’s Black Book of Bioenergy paper.

Sini Eräjää, Birdlife’s bioenergy officer, said: “This report provides clear evidence that the EU’s renewable energy policies have led to increased harvesting of whole trees and to continued use of food crops for energy. We are subsidising large-scale environmental destruction, not just outside Europe, as in Indonesia or the US, but also right in our own backyard.”

The logging of whole trees releases all of their stored carbon and drains the planet’s “carbon sink” or potential for absorbing more emissions. Even if new saplings are planted, it may take 50 years or more until they are able to compensate for felled trees, by which point experts fear tipping points for runaway warming could have been reached.


The continent’s carbon sink is forecast by the EU to decline by about 100m tonnes between 2020 and 2030, partly because of logging for bioenergy.

An EU source told the Guardian that industrial-scale demand from large power plants was a key contributor to the felling of forests for bioenergy.

“It is increasingly a problem, and it comes with scale,” the source said. “The bigger the [power plant] facility, the more you need economies of scale but you can’t easily achieve those with residues.

“If you go to a forest system where 30% [of biomatter] is residue, you can collect it [without problems]. But if your demand exceeds that, there is just nothing else to do. You have to cut more forests. It is as simple as that.”

The dynamic extends to forests beyond the EU’s borders, with unsustainably harvested wood imports increasingly being sucked in to meet European demand.

One massive wood plant in Vyborg, north-west Russia produces 800,000 tonnes of wood pellets each year from felled trees in forests around Leningrad and Pakov oblasts. Its wood products are sold to companies including RWE, Vattenfall, Fortum and Dong Energy to meet demand in Denmark, Italy, Finland and Sweden.

A massive wood pellet plant in Vyborg, Russia

A massive wood pellet plant in Vyborg, Russia Photograph: Paolo Ralla/Birdlife

Colombia, the world’s fourth-biggest palm oil producer, has doubled its number of palm oil plantations in less than a decade, while tripling exports to Europe. Half a million hectares of the country’s forest land – including former tropical rainforest areas – have been cleared for agricultural exploitation since 2006.

Jori Sihvonen, the biofuels officer at Transport and Environment, which co-authored the report, said: “It is easy to fall into thinking that all bioenergy is sustainable, but time and again we see some forms of it can be worse for society, the natural environment and, in the case of burning land-based biofuels or whole trees, even the climate.

“The European commission should phase out all land-based biofuels by 2030 and devote greater efforts to promoting sustainable renewables such as solar, wind, geothermal and tidal.”


The biomass industry continues to claim that they only use offcuts, which would otherwise be left to rot.

But it is now becoming increasingly obvious that they are being economical with the truth.

  1. Adrian permalink
    February 23, 2017 6:54 pm

    THE GUARDIAN!! WROTE THAT?? My God I’ve died?

    Well I look forward to the BBC coverage of this, it normally parrots grauniad bollox, will it cover reality this time?

    Oh I can barely wait.

  2. February 23, 2017 7:44 pm

    Chatham House has 2 new reports out today baaed on the same research
    The Impacts of the Demand for Woody Biomass for Power and Heat on Climate and Forests
    “However, the role of biomass as a system balancer, and its *supposed* ability, in combination with carbon capture and storage technology, to generate negative emissions, seem likely to keep it in contention in the future.

    There is a sister article : The Impacts of the Demand for Woody Biomass for Power and Heat on Climate and Forests
    “Current biomass policy frameworks are not fit for purpose and require substantial changes to ensure they contribute to mitigating climate change rather than exacerbating it.”
    The rest of the intro is similar to the other paper.

    The report’s author just faced Chris Huhne on C4 News at 7:30pm so you can catch it on Ch4 +1

    Wonder how Leftwing Chatham House is ? ..never seen it called right wing

  3. bea permalink
    February 23, 2017 8:41 pm

    “Wonder how Leftwing Chatham House is?”

    It is neither Left nor Right; It is “We-say-so Globalist.”
    Therefore, keep a close watch on your money-clip and your vulnerable orifices.

  4. Bitter&twisted permalink
    February 23, 2017 10:49 pm

    The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
    Green lunacy at its worst.

  5. David Richardson permalink
    February 23, 2017 11:01 pm

    No need to worry about this – I have avoided printing three emails today – so that is a good offset.

    I sent a message to one company that emailed me recently and then implored me to save the planet by not printing it – I told them that since Drax PS was burning thousands of trees a day, I would print the thing if I wanted to. There was no reply.

    You simply couldn’t make this stuff up could you? – but they have.

  6. catweazle666 permalink
    February 23, 2017 11:42 pm

    Much to my astonishment, this was reported on BBC R4 this morning…

  7. Athelstan permalink
    February 24, 2017 7:15 am

    “Protected forests in Europe felled to meet EU renewable targets – report”

    Oh alack and all so………………….. Shock horror!

    It’s not if we haven’t been telling ’em – now is it?

    I wonder what on earth brought them round to question the ‘save the planet’ green zealots, what could it be……………..nothing to do with a new lad in the White House – could it be?

    Yeah, OK it was reported here and there but the real thing is, the questions about biofuels this, that and the other but what is never, ever questioned is why the corporate blob can facilitate such utterly astonishingly insane environmental disaster[s]……. through using the excuse of: “green ruinables” and meantime stiffing the TAXPAYER/CONSUMER – sounds, smacks of – like agenda 21 to me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What the graun and their sister sluts of green at the bbc needs to ask but never will – why do we have to put up with this eco insanity? Investigate [fat fekkin chance!] – what is, are the suppositions, what are the fundamental premises – and then exposed – man made CO2 and when you finally get down to it……………………..sh8tty hypothesis begets even sh8ttier outcomes and consequences = Murphy’s law, anything that can go wrong – will go wronger.

    sh8t happens and then there is the green sh8t and their green sh8theads who champion it, step forwards the graun and boys buggering club.

  8. February 24, 2017 10:31 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Killing the Earth to Save it” UPDATE…

  9. February 24, 2017 11:55 am

    Let’s face it. The mainstream of politics and media have been ‘mis-informed’ for the past 20 years or so. Anthropogenic Global Warming, based upon <CO² = an irreversible < in global temperature, is all part of an ideology to create an internationalist world government. Politiciansand media have signed up to the biggest groupthink crusade imaginable and we are all paying a heavy price.

  10. Gerry, England permalink
    February 24, 2017 3:14 pm

    Adding to the wood pellet saga is that our building regs now require off grid houses to either use a ground source heat pump or wood pellets as a fuel. No more nice cheap oil or liquid gas. I don’t think there any restriction on you changing it afterwards. Heat pumps sound great until you realise they need a lot of electricity and that is not cheap.

  11. Jack Broughton permalink
    February 25, 2017 3:27 pm

    I know a lot of nice, sensible people who have been totally brainwashed by the global warming lobby and passionately believe in their duty to save the world. They would never, never visit web-sites like this or read Booker etc.

    In a recent debate one of them said ” But what if you are wrong and the science is right, how can you be so certain?”. I tried to explain the costs of the fear project and lack of any proven threat, but shutters went straight up.

    The only hope that I see is that issues like the stupidity of wood burning get the publicity so far denied to any opposing view and that Trump has a showdown with NAOO and NASA “scientists”.

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