The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) have launched a pilot project to help bioenergy companies in the United States support responsible forest management through their procurement of woody biomass.
The joint effort reflects the recognition by both organizations that the bioenergy industry provides new market opportunities for forest landowners and managers, but that appropriate steps should be in place for the procurement of forest fiber in order to maintain the health of the forest resource.
The project will assist facilities that produce renewable energy or transportation fuels from woody biomass to establish a responsible procurement system. SFI's Fiber Sourcing requirements will be applied for the procurement system, and analysis will be conducted to identify gaps between existing procurement and SFI Fiber Sourcing requirements.
"Woody biomass can be a great source of renewable energy and offers an excellent incentive so landowners can maintain their forests as forests — as long the forest is managed responsibly," said Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy. "TNC is interested in this project with SFI to explore how the SFI Standard's unique Fiber Sourcing requirements can address the need of responsible procurement of woody biomass for bioenergy facilities while managing for important forest values."
Through the SFI program's unique fiber sourcing requirements, all SFI program participants — whether they own or manage lands or buy fiber — must take measures to ensure the raw material in their supply chain is from responsible sources. Next steps for this project entail the identification of bioenergy facilities that can be project participants and will form the basis of our shared learning.
"Working with The Nature Conservancy and project partners will be a constructive undertaking to share and learn from our collective knowledge as it relates to responsible procurement. This initiative has the potential to demonstrate to policymakers that voluntary certification has an important role to play in demonstrating the viability of voluntary measures to address emerging issues related to a growing bioenergy market," said SFI President and CEO Kathy Abusow.