Canadian Biomass Magazine

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Diane Nicholls joins Drax as vice president of sustainability


April 5, 2022
By Drax

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Diane Nicholls. Photo courtesy Drax

Drax Group, the world’s leading sustainable biomass generation and supply business, is delighted to announce the appointment of leading Canadian forestry expert Diane Nicholls as the company’s vice-president of sustainability for North America.

  • Diane Nicholls, a Canadian forester with over 25 years’ experience in forestry and sustainability, will lead Drax’s North American biomass sustainability strategy.
  • The former Chief Forester for British Columbia is joining the renewable energy company and will work with its teams to ensure the biomass it supplies meets the highest sustainability standards and expectations – balancing the need for forestry stewardship, with positive community and climate outcomes.
  • Diane’s extensive expertise will be invaluable in the role of vice-president of sustainability in North America, as Drax increases sustainable biomass supply and advances the carbon removal technology bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) to support the global transition to net zero

Prior to the role at Drax, Diane was Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Forester for the province of British Columbia, where she was responsible for setting the Allowable Annual Cut across more than 50 million hectares of public forest in B.C.

She has also led the Indigenous Forest Bioeconomy Strategy, helped deliver a record tree planting program, introduced collaboration with First Nations in the timber supply review process and incorporated carbon modelling and habitat supply.

Diane will report to and work closely with Drax Group’s director of sustainability, Dr. Alan Knight, to implement and advance the company’s global sustainability plan, ensuring Drax’s biomass delivers positive outcomes for the climate, nature and people while driving the highest sustainability standards across the industry.

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Knight said:

“I’m excited to welcome Diane to the Drax team – Diane has over 25 years’ experience in forestry and sustainability in Canada and understands the complex and diverse needs of forestry stewardship, including protection of specific areas, preventing wildfires and disease and supporting local communities.

“Sustainability is at the heart of what we do, and Diane’s knowledge and expertise will be invaluable – helping to drive our work in North America and ensuring our biomass delivers positive outcomes for people, nature and the climate. Biomass has a growing role to play globally in displacing fossil fuels and with BECCS to remove carbon emissions and enable the global transition to a low-carbon future.”

Diane will work with teams across the company to develop Drax’s biomass feedstocks in North America, ensuring they meet the highest sustainability requirements, transparency and expectations of stakeholders, including the government, First Nations and NGOs.

“Forests have a vital role to play in meeting global climate targets and it’s crucial that forest management is science-based as well as focused on the diverse needs of the communities living in and around them.

“Sound forest management is also our best tool for enhancing wildlife habitat, ensuring clean water, contributing to carbon sequestration and supporting the local communities with jobs and economic opportunities. I look forward to advancing my work around forestry stewardship with Drax,” Diane said.

Diane is a Registered Professional Forester. Her research has included rare and endangered species, ecosystem-based management and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Drax has been at the heart of the UK’s energy transition using sustainable biomass to help decarbonize the power system faster than any other country.

The renewable energy company operates 15 pellet plants in Western Canada and the U.S. South, producing and supplying sustainable biomass internationally, with plans for further growth in production over the coming years.

Drax also has plans to develop bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). This vital negative emissions technology permanently removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere whilst also generating renewable power – no other technology can do both.