European Bioenergy Policies Threaten Forests – Report

Forest groups on Wednesday published a new report revealing the serious threats to forests and forest-dependent communities, particularly in the global South, posed by European subsidies for wood-based bioenergy. The call from the Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch for an immediate end to subsidies and incentives for industrial bioenergy is supported by more than 90 organizations worldwide.

The report "Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie," was announced on the sidelines of  the climate talks underway in Bonn, Germany. It claims that large-scale woody bioenergy development will significantly harm forests and forest dependent people worldwide by expanding logging and turning forests into plantations. It will also foster the development of genetically engineered trees, the impacts of which can be devastating.

Wood is already the major source of renewable energy in Europe and its use for bioenergy is expected to increase rapidly in the future. In the UK alone, an industry study has revealed plans to increase wood bioenergy use from half a million tons to 35 million tons, which is over 3.5 times the country’s total wood production.

Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch explains: “It is a myth that only sawmill and other residues are being burned for bioenergy.  Moreover, tree stumps, twigs and needles are vital for soil fertility, biodiversity and soil carbon. Already, more and more whole trees are being turned into woodchips and pellets for power stations and companies are increasingly looking beyond the EU for meeting the fast growing new demand.”

Fiu Mata’ese Elisara from Samoa, Chairman of the Global Forest Coalition, expressed his concerns about the impacts which this new demand will have on Indigenous Peoples and their access to land and freshwater. “Large scale demand from the North will deprive Indigenous Peoples in the south from their ecologically sustainable and socially indispensable use of forests as they are replaced by destructive tree plantations," Elisara said. "The idea that these plantations will be on ‘marginal’ lands, and not compete with food or peoples’ livelihoods is false. Even so-called degraded lands often play a vital role in rural people’s livelihoods, providing medicinal plants, grazing and fuel wood.”

Genetically engineered trees pose a major new threat to forests, forest-dependent communities and the climate, says Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project. “Genetically engineered trees can spread their pollen and seeds for hundreds of kilometers. This means they can easily contaminate native forests, leading to severe impacts on forests and forest dependent peoples. Once this occurs, it is irreversible.”

The report is available at the link below.

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Comments on “European Bioenergy Policies Threaten Forests – Report”

  1. @BIOblogger

    Any document whose title includes the inflammatory, prejudicial word “Lie” is not a report to be credite “Report” in the title of your article is not worthy of this journal.

    There are many equally passionate environmentalists and forestry academics and professionals who would argue that not managing our forests is leading to mega-fires and bug infestations that increase GHG. They would also argue that a primary impediment to forest health management and reforestation is the decline of biomass using businesses to provide funding – which bioenergy projects provide. This is neither a report or propaganda – it is my observation from attending dozens of conferences, seminars, and hearings.


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