Canadian Biomass Magazine

Features Harvesting Sustainability
Biomass use in Maritime provinces questioned


December 30, 2015
By East Coast Environmental Law

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December 30, 2015 - In the wake of a landmark global climate deal reached in Paris, East Coast Environmental Law (ECELAW) has released a report calling into question the carbon impact of widespread biomass energy use. ECELAW, Atlantic Canada’s only environmental law charity, is calling on provincial governments in the Maritimes to change their renewable energy policies to bring them in line with the current scientific understanding of the impacts of biomass energy.

“It may not be as simple as ‘burn a tree, grow a tree’”, says ECELAW’s executive director, Aaron Ward. “Most government policies on biomass energy have not yet accounted for several important indicators of the impact on forests, including changes to forest structure and productivity, impacts of multiple harvests, and time-lags in carbon reabsorption. Recent scientific developments suggest that unless certain regulatory safeguards are in place, burning forest biomass for electricity can result in increased CO2 levels for over a century.”

Biomass harvesting for electricity generation is taking place in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with little regulatory oversight; whole-tree harvesting and near-complete removal of living and dead material from sites has occurred. The Maritime Provinces’ renewable energy policies do not reflect the current understanding of the carbon emission impacts of forest biomass energy. 

“We are calling on Maritime governments to introduce minimum efficiency requirements for biomass energy and restricting or prohibiting whole-tree harvesting in all forestry operations,” says Ward. “Further, we recommend that the Maritimes introduce province-wide policies for forest carbon modelling and full life-cycle analysis of biomass energy systems.”

To download ECELAW’s biomass report click here.


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