Estonian biomass sourcing fully meets UK sustainability standards

Contrary to false claims made in the publications by NRDC, biomass sourcing in Estonia fully meets UK sustainability standards. The cases presented by NRDC try to demonstrate failures of sustainability criteria, but proved to be misinterpretations of data. Graanul Invest sourced biomass comes from residual streams and does not influence local forest management practices. Graanul Invest is mitigating all specified risks to protect imperiled species, key ecosystems and biodiversity.

NRDC published material made wrongful accusations against Graanul Invest and its partners, and therefore we share our assessment of those claims.

The NRDC document is re-using the SOMO report (published in 2021, the report investigated biomass sourcing from Estonia for Dutch market) that is mainly based on only one stakeholder’s claims and viewpoints – the Estonian Fund for Nature (ELF) and is therefore biased. Unfortunately, the assessment ignores important viewpoints of other stakeholders, expert groups and academia who are also very active in this field. In NRDC publication, no evidence or cases were added to the SOMO documents and it is therefore surprising that the same information, that was already proved to be misleading, is again used in the UK context. After the SOMO report was published, all the accusations were investigated and official research (internal, external and regulator level) found that the Estonian biomass supply complies with the established sustainability requirements. Graanul Invest and our forestry partners follow very strict regulations for biomass use and strict sustainability requirements to source feedstock.

High conservation value forests and species are well protected in Estonia

The claimed logging of unmapped woodland key habitats, peatlands, watersheds and Natura areas has been closely examined by auditors over the years and no wrongful sustainability claims or gaps in protection have been found. Few handpicked cases from sensitive areas that are presented in the report are by no means representative of wood flow volumes of Estonian forest management, but are nevertheless in line with sustainability requirements and state regulations. There are large protection areas in the Baltics and strong biodiversity protective measures in the forest laws that detect and preserve high conservation values. The claims of protected species endangerment and habitat destruction are unsubstantiated and cannot be tied with biomass sourcing or Graanul Invest.

Strict control mechanisms are in place to protect biodiversity

Graanul Invest supply chain is regularly and repeatedly audited from forest to production against set sustainability requirements. Biomass material for bioenergy comes from residual streams that are not usable in other industries and would be seen as waste or residual material. The use of the lowest quality wood for bioenergy does not influence Estonian forest management practices. Estonia has very strict forest laws and the amount of protected forest area has in fact increased in time.

Forest management in restricted areas that follows these strict conditions and fulfils the nature conservation expert’s recommendation for sanitary or maintenance cuttings, are positive examples of sustainable forestry. Natura 2000 network harvests, peatland and watersheds forests maintenance works are carried out conditionally and transparently. Every activity is assessed and compliance confirmed by state authorities. Harvests in those areas are very limited in scale, duration and species mix and are in full accordance with the law. Relevant restrictions have been developed by the Environmental Board and experts, considering the specifics of each area and the needs of the species living there.

In Graanul Invest we believe that orderly and meaningful forest protection is important and all biomass sourcing must be done sustainably to protect biodiversity and high conservation value forests. All our sourced material is in accordance with those principles and we commit to sourcing feedstock through legal and sustainable supply chains and forests.