In a newsrelease Eurostat mentioned on Thursday that ‘a possible further increase in the demand for fuelwood would be sustainable’, due to the fact that sustainable forest management ensures a growing forest in Europe. Whilst the arithmetics of Eurostat are correct, the economics of biomass markets challenge the Eurostat statement, which is why the European pulp and paper industry is calling for a biomass supply policy.
Forest biomass that is easily accessible has long been used and developed by foresters, wood, pulp and paper industries. The remaining forest resources are mostly located in very small and scattered private properties or in areas that are difficult to access, hence making the mobilisation of such biomass more difficult and less cost competitive. To gain access to such resources an ambitious biomass supply policy is required, which includes financial incentives to increase mobilisation. For the moment, it is still cheaper to import wood pallets from overseas (e.g. Canada) for energy production rather than mobilising certain categories of forest biomass in Europe.
At a moment when the ministers are discussing both the Multiannual Financial Framework and the future CAP, opportunities to design ambitious biomass supply policies in the EU are within reach.
But mobilisation is not enough. A study on ‘Wood flows in EU27’ shows that the development of energy from biomass should only be considered when applying a "cascading approach", a principle that aims at promoting the most efficient use of natural resources, while optimizing value creation, ideally first for food, then products and finally for energy. The infographic shows that the cascading factor for paper is 2.38, meaning that due to recycling and the use of waste and by-products in the pulp and paper industry, 1 m3 of wood creates products worth 2.38 m3 of wood.
This is resource efficiency at its best.
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Note to the Editor
Eurostat press release: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/5-29112012-AP/EN/5-29112012-AP-EN.PDF
Infographic – efficient use of wood http://www.cepi.org/node/12755
Full study – Wood flows in EU27 http://digibook.digi-work.com/Digibooks.aspx/Get/cepi/798/CEPIWoodFlowsinEurope2012pdf
Resource efficiency: How to make best use of our natural resources? http://www.cepi.org/node/12751