Page 43 - European Energy Innovation - Spring 2017 publication
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Spring 2017 European Energy Innovation       43

                                                   EUROPEAN FORESTS

wood in the transition to a fossil-free    1. Increasing demand for forest-             UNTAPPED POTENTIAL
bioeconomy.                                    based bioenergy does not put our         There is further potential for increasing
                                               forests at risk                          the mobilization of domestically
We need to remember that forests               European forests are sustainably         sourced biomass from sustainable
are our largest non-food renewable             managed regardless of the                forests by for example increasing
resource and an actively managed               functions they fulfill and the end       market demand for lower quality
forest is better for the climate. It is        use of the biomass produced. We          assortments. It is possible to more
kept in vigorous growth, maintaining           have a comprehensive legislative         efficiently use low quality wood and
carbon sequestration and offering              framework in place to ensure the         forest residues, while at the same
renewable timber resources and                 sustainable management of forests.       time improving the resilience of forest
bioenergy to replace fossils. The              Moreover, forest owners have             ecosystems and strengthening the
green carbon is circulating in the             absolutely no interest in destroying     economic performance of forestry and
natural forest carbon cycle, which is          their own forest. On the contrary,       the forest-based sector.
maintained and can be enhanced by              a strong wood demand provides
forest management. This offers us              the right incentive to forest owners     In addition to the aspects related
an opportunity to replace the black            to invest into sustainable forest        to climate change mitigation by
carbon and stop introducing new fossil         management and mobilise their            replacing fossil-based energy sources,
emissions into our system.                     wood. In the EU, we harvest around       bioenergy from locally-sourced
                                               65% of the annual growth. Since the      biomass can contribute towards
FORESTS IN THE EU 2030 CLIMATE                 introduction of RED in 2009, and the     achieving the objectives of the Energy
AND ENERGY FRAMEWORK                           subsequent introduction of support       Union by improving energy security,
The RED Recast introduces for the first        schemes for bioenergy, we have not       supporting rural development through
time sustainability criteria for forest        seen this alleged devastation of our     green growth and employment and
biomass, despite the fact that Member          forests. In fact, harvest levels in the  developing a sustainable bioeconomy.
States have in place rigorous legal            EU have declined or stagnated in
frameworks to ensure the sustainable           the past 8 years.                        Going forward, let us keep the forest
management of forests. It is now of                                                     in sight when transitioning our society
utmost importance that this does           2. Bioenergy demand does not                 to tackle climate change. Not only
not in practice mean additional legal          drive forest harvests                    should we love our multifunctional
and administrative constraints on              Bioenergy from forests is part of        forests, we also need to recognize
the manifold use of forest biomass.            an integrated use of wood, where         the power and drivers of the millions
This holds true also in the LULUCF             different parts of a tree is used for    of individuals and families who are
framework, which needs to take                 different things. How a certain part     investing in, managing and taking care
into account the biological reality of         of a tree is used depends both on        of this crucial natural resource. Without
forest ecosystems, where net carbon            its type and quality, but also on        these people and their engagement
removals are ensured when harvesting           dynamic societal and market needs,       on the ground, we would lose out on
does not exceed the long term growth.          which are in turn dependent on           the multitude of benefits which we are
                                               the development of technology            all so much in need of. l
In the discussions on the Commission’s         and innovation. Europe’s forest
Clean Energy Package, we have seen             owners are managing their forests          Bioenergy from forests help
many alarmistic messages about                 for multiple products and purposes,        decarbonize Europe
European forests being destroyed               where high-value sawn timber is the        Forests play a key role in meeting
because of bioenergy use and that it           most important from an economic
is better to use coal (!) than bioenergy.      point of view. To give an example,         the EU renewable energy
Unfortunately, a simplistic black and          when a forest owner in Sweden
white picture has been painted, where          sells her wood, 70% of the income          objectives. Currently, bioenergy
bioenergy has been portrayed as all bad.       comes from timber, 27% from pulp
                                               wood and only 3% from bioenergy.           represents 63% of renewable
However, as is mostly the case,                Artificially regulating the market
nothing is black or white. In order to         by imposing restrictions, such as          energy consumption and forest
understand forest-based bioenergy,             placing a cap on biomass use or
there is a need to look at the full            imposing a compulsory cascading            biomass is the most important
picture of how forests are managed             principle, would be not only
and used and a few misconceptions              unfeasible to implement but also           bioenergy feedstock in the EU,
concerning forests and bioenergy               endanger the sustainable use of
need to be clarified:                          biomass.                                   representing around 70% of of

                                                                                          bioenergy consumption. With 97%

                                                                                          of this biomass being sourced

                                                                                          within the EU, bioenergy is a truly

                                                                                          local energy source.
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