28 Mar 2007 03:09 PM
Power of wood - biomass plan to tackle climate change

DEPARTMENT FOR ENVIRONMENT, FOOD AND RURAL AFFAIRS News Release (97/07) issued by The Government News Network on 28 March 2007

A plan to boost the supply of environment-friendly woodfuel to cut greenhouse gases and produce enough energy to power 250,000 homes was unveiled today.

The Forestry Commission's Woodfuel Strategy for England (http://www.forestry.gov.uk/england-woodfuel), launched by Biodiversity Minister Barry Gardiner, aims to boost the woodfuel market with an extra two million tonnes of wood a year by 2020, saving 400,000 tonnes of carbon annually - the equivalent of taking 550,000 cars off the road.

Carbon released into the atmosphere by burning woodfuel is absorbed by growing more trees. As well as cutting carbon and producing renewable energy, woodfuel benefits biodiversity through sustainable management of neglected woodlands and boosts the rural economy.

Barry Gardiner visited a trailblazing woodfuel scheme in Bristol today. Blaise Plant Nursery's boiler uses clean recovered wood from Bristol's parks to heat greenhouses, saving £19,000 a year on fuel bills and contributing to climate change targets.

Barry Gardiner said:

"Using wood instead of fossil fuels means that sustainably managed woodland can be a significant resource for a low-carbon economy. Producing fuel from timber taken from well-managed woodlands benefits wildlife too.

"Stimulating the woodfuel market is good for jobs too, and this new strategy gives people the tools to realise the broad range of benefits that woodfuel has to offer. Government, business, communities and local authorities can together make woodfuel work for everyone's benefit. "

Biomass such as woodfuel currently supplies three per cent of total UK energy.

The strategy recommends provision of capital investment and technical advice and support for the supply chain, and highlights the need to find new ways to engage with the estimated 50-80,000 owners of woodland in England.

Forestry Commission Chairman Lord Clark of Windermere said:

"Over half of England's woodlands are currently under-managed. This is a significant and sustainable resource that we want to tap into.

"This will also bring additional benefits including biodiversity. Bringing more woodland back into management will benefit a range of flora and fauna including species such as nightingales and woodland butterflies. Using wood to substitute for fossil fuels means that well managed woodland can help to combat climate change. So woodfuel is a winner on many counts."

The Forestry Commission will be working with delivery partners, including Regional Development Agencies, local authorities and private businesses, to produce a detailed implementation plan to support the strategy.

Editors' Notes

1. The publication of the Strategy will be followed up by a detailed implementation plan in the summer.

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for forestry in Great Britain. It supports woodland owners with grants; tree felling licences, regulation and advice; promotes the benefits of forests and forestry; and advises Government on forestry policy. It manages more than a million hectares (2.5 million acres) of national forest land for public benefits such as sustainable timber production, public recreation, nature conservation, and rural and community development. For further information, visit http://www.forestry.gsi.gov.uk

3. Defra's biomass pages are at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/farm/crops/industrial/index.htm
The Government has set a domestic target to reduce carbon emissions by 20% below 1990 levels by 2010 and 60% by 2050. Biomass as a renewable source of energy, including woodfuel, can make a contribution to achieving these targets.

Public enquiries 08459 335577;
Press notices are available on our website http://www.defra.gov.uk
Defra's aim is sustainable development

To subscribe or unsubscribe to Defra's mailing list go to: http://www.gnn.gov.uk/ Once on the GNN website see Sign up

Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Website http://www.defra.gov.uk