Campaigns questioning the use of woody biomass for energy are missing key facts
There are concurrent media campaigns and publications questioning the use of woody biomass for renewable energy production. Several of them misrepresent on-the-ground forestry practise and bioenergy systems, and associate the use of woody biomass for energy with overexploitation of forests, even permanent deforestation, and "the burning of trees".
In reality, forest bioenergy is an integral part of the forest sector which responds to bioenergy demand by devising forest management approaches and industrial processes to produce fuels, heat and electricity along with sawlogs, paper and a multitude of other biobased products. The media campaigns also often ignore the many steps that have already been taken towards sustainable forest management, particularly in Europe and North America.
While it is certainly important to identify what is needed to ensure that biomass is produced and used in a responsible way, the misrepresentations within recent soundbites run the risk of discrediting biomass as a sustainable material and energy source altogether – a feat that could have dire consequences for global carbon neutrality ambitions.
February 2021 – Combustion is today the most frequent means of converting woody biomass into energy, particularly in the form of heat and/or power. This can conjure the vision of “cutting down forest stands and burning the trees for energy” in the mind of the common reader and also scientists that are unfamiliar with on-the-ground forestry and bioenergy systems. However the reality is very different!