Bioenergy is a natural part of the circular economy of the wood industry
The use of the lowest quality wood in bioenergy does not affect forest management practices. The use of wood residues for energy is a natural part of the circular economy of the forest and wood industry.
All of the biomass used by Graanul Invest is strictly a natural surplus of the existing wood and forest industries. The raw material used for the production of wood pellets is only the leftover material, which is unsuitable for other industries. The pellet industry is the last link in the wood valorisation chain, which means that the properties and quality of the wood are the lowest in terms of several parameters, and consequently the value of this wood is also the lowest. The transfer of residues from one industry to another is a good example of a functioning circular economy.
Indufor, the world’s leading provider of advisory services on forest and natural resources, has produced a comprehensive report in 2020 on the impact of demand for wood-based bioenergy, which shows that bioenergy does not affect forest management practices and cutting volumes. A comprehensive review article recently published by researchers at Oxford University deals with published research results on the impact of the wood pellet industry on biodiversity in the US. The article reflects on the results of 211 previous studies and, contrary to the claims that forestry is causing extensive damage to the area, most of the studies did not identify any negative impacts of forestry on biodiversity.
‘Inaccurate conclusions do not contribute to a sensible debate or to saving the environment. Estonian forest science is considered to be the top of the world due to the best forestry traditions and knowledge. Challenging these truths with a partial argument is not a solution and will not bring us any closer to it,’ said Raul Kirjanen, Chairman of the Management Board of Graanul Invest. ‘The common desire of all of us today is to design sustainable forestry and to valorise wood the best possible way.’
In Estonia, forests are being cut in order to use the material in the timber and plywood industry. As the cutting volumes of forestry increase, the amount of residual material remaining from the sector also increases, and the residues of the timber and forest industry move to heat and energy production. Firewood-quality material, branches and wood chips are used in energy.
If mature forests are not managed in time, the quality of wood in the forest will deteriorate, the number of dead and decaying trees on site will increase, and the forest’s carbon capture capacity will decrease significantly. The aim of reforestation is to create a new forest generation so that future generations will also have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful and well-kept forest that also offers high-quality wood material.
Alongside foreign buyers, Graanul Invest Group is the only major buyer of forest land in Estonia that is based on Estonian capital. The group has several separately operating business lines, and the development of a sustainable forest portfolio is one of them. The group includes various forestry companies that manage the forest in accordance with decades of experience and best practice. In addition to reforestation and planting, the group’s forestry companies also engage in the voluntary protection of forests. Today, the group’s forests contain 6,244.14 hectares or 12.4% of protected areas, of which 262.83 ha are under strict protection and completely out of management.
Bioenergy has an important role in reducing the use of fossil fuels and achieving climate goals. Graanul Invest has kept millions of tonnes of fossil fuels underground throughout its operation.