FRA Welcomes Sustainable Forestry Initiative Pilot Bioenergy Project
A new woody biomass procurement project, launched by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), has attracted support from Forestry Research Associates (FRA).
The research and advisory consultancy provides fresh outlooks and consultancy services on all matters surrounding forestry investment, sustainability and forestry management and has spoken out in support of the new pilot scheme. The plan is to support sustainable forestry management by helping US-based bioenergy companies to purchase woody biomass.
Both parties agree that bioenergy is a major market for the forestry sector and that in order to maintain the health of the resource, ‘appropriate steps should be in place for the procurement of forest fibre.’
“The focus is on developing a procurement system that is fair and responsible,” explained FRA’s analysis partner Peter Collins. His view was backed by TNC’s Chief External Officer, Glenn Prickett, who added, “Woody biomass can be a great source of renewable energy and offers an excellent incentive so landowners can maintain their forests as forests – as long the forest is managed responsibly.”
The main technique will be to impose the Sustainable Forestry initiative’s Fiber Sourcing requirements on the procurement processes. This will be the key to the whole project, according to Prickett who added, “TNC is interested in this project with SFI to explore how the SFI Standard’s unique Fiber Sourcing requirements can address the need of responsible procurement of woody biomass for bioenergy facilities while managing for important forest values.”
FRA added that the initiative is intended to ensure that all sources of woody biomass are responsible, which will help add legitimacy to the industry as a whole and will also help to nurture it as a major source of income for forestry managers and investors.
The SFI has already made great inroads into helping to promote sustainable forestry in the US. Some 180 million acres of forest now carry the certified SFI forest management standard mark, which makes it the largest standard of its kind in the world.
“The fact that the SFI and TNC are adding their weight to the bioenergy industry will help hugely to improve its reputation and encourage investment and fair procurement processes,” added Peter Collins.