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U.S. South’s Largest Wood Pellet Exporter has Vital Forests in its Crosshairs

1 Sep

by Debbie Hammel / Switchboard

Map 1When you think about burning wood to heat your home, you might imagine a cozy fireplace, not a giant power plant. Unfortunately, utility companies in Europe are making massive investments to convert their power plants to burn wood—known as “biomass”—as a replacement for coal and other fossil fuels. This is despite the fact that recent research shows that burning whole trees in power plants actually increases carbon emissions relative to fossil fuels for many decades—anywhere from 35 to 100 years or more. It also emits higher levels of multiple air pollutants.

The result of this new demand has been the explosive growth of wood pellet exports from North America, most of which originate in our Southern forests here in the United States, putting into peril some of the most valuable ecosystems in the world.

At the leading edge of this new industry is Enviva, the South’s largest exporter of wood pellets. Enviva harvests trees from Southern forests, chips them in pellet mills and loads the pellets onto ships bound for Europe, where they are burned in utility-scale power plants to keep the lights on in Europe. Not exactly a cozy picture.

New maps and a report published today by NRDC and Dogwood Alliance show what’s at stake for  the forests surrounding Enviva’s Ahoskie facility—and the multitude of species that depend on them for their habitat. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data layers to show the landscapes and species within the 75-mile radius from which the Ahoskie mill buys trees for wood pellet manufacturing, the results reveal how Enviva has some of the most biologically diverse and environmentally sensitive natural forests in the world in its crosshairs.

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Honduras: Three Indigenous Murdered for Defending Territory from Resource Extraction

31 Aug

by Curtis Kline / Intercontinental Cry

photo: larepublica.pe

photo: larepublica.pe

While carrying out peaceful actions to defend their territory from the illegal exploitation of natural resources and forest clearing, three Indigenous Tolupan from Yoro district in Honduras, María Enriqueta Matute, Armando Funez Medina and Ricardo Soto Funez, were murdered on Sunday.

At the time, the Tolupan community of San Francisco de Locomapa was carrying out a peaceful demonstration to protest the installation of a mine in their territories. Exercising their legitimate right to the protection of their environment and their livelihoods, the community organized a roadblock, preventing all vehicles from gaining access to any minerals.

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Oregon Call to Action: White Castle Treesit Needs Your Help

29 Aug

from Cascadia Forest Defenders

whitecastleSince the beginning of June this year, we have been occupying Unit 8 of the White Castle Timber Sale. We are tree-sitting and physically blockading logging of this ecosystem because we are opposed to the destruction of native forests in the name of bad science, clearcutting and what this timber sale proposes for the future of forestry practices in Oregon.

The BLM is proposing a closure that would restrict access to the timber sale. For more information about the closure, read this. We are asking for people to send comments to the BLM voicing their opposition to the closure by writing to: BLM_OR_RB_Mail@blm.gov. Thank you!

We will stay until the timber sale is dropped and the forest is protected. The weather and law enforcement are likely to get less friendlier but we will persevere. Too much is already gone to not fight for what remains. And we need your help! We need folks to join us in the woods, help us collect and transport supplies and we need folks to keep spreading the word.

If you want to come out to the woods or support us get in touch by emailing us at forestdefensenow@gmail.com. We have open weekly meetings Mondays at five in the Owens Rose Garden in Eugene, OR, which all are invited to attend if you are interested in finding out more of what we are about or want to find a way to plug in.

The White Castle Variable Retention Harvest (VRH) or the Roseburg BLM Pilot Project is 190 acre clearcut near the town of Myrtle Creek in southern Oregon. All of the timber sale is within area proposed as critical habitat for the survival of the Northern Spotted Owl and is in the home range of five different owl pairs. Located in between the ‘dry eastside’ and ‘moist westside’ forests, White Castle has incredible biodiversity, with Western Red Cedars and Sugar Pines, swamp ecosystems beside poison oak patches. White Castle is also located within the watershed of Myrtle Creek and the surrounding communities.

To view the Timber Sale prospectus ( the document that the BLM produces giving you all the information about logging plans and ecosystems of a given timber sale) follow this link

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