Forest groups urge European governments to stop support for industrial bioenergy
Bonn, 2 June 2010 – Forest groups will today publish a new report revealing the serious threats to forests and forest-dependent communities, particularly in the global South, posed by European subsidies for wood-based bioenergy. The call from the Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project and Biofuelwatch for an immediate end to subsidies and incentives for industrial bioenergy is supported by over 90 organizations worldwide.
The report Wood-based Bioenergy: The Green Lie, which will be launched today at the climate talks in Bonn  shows that large-scale woody bioenergy development will significantly harm forests and forest dependent people worldwide by expanding logging and turning forests into plantations. It will also foster the development of genetically engineered trees, the impacts of which can be devastating.
Wood is already the major source of renewable energy in Europe and its use for bioenergy is expected to increase rapidly in the future. In the UK alone, an industry study has revealed plans to increase wood bioenergy use from half a million tonnes to 35 million tonnes, which is over 3.5 times the country’s total wood production.
Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch explains: “It is a myth that only sawmill and other residues are being burned for bioenergy. Moreover, tree stumps, twigs and needles are vital for soil fertility, biodiversity and soil carbon. Already, more and more whole trees are being turned into woodchips and pellets for power stations and companies are increasingly looking beyond the EU for meeting the fast growing new demand.”
Fiu Mata’ese Elisara from Samoa, Chairman of the Global Forest Coalition, expresses his concerns about the impacts which this new demand will have on Indigenous Peoples and their access to land and freshwater:
“Large scale demand from the North will deprive Indigenous Peoples in the south from their ecologically sustainable and socially indispensable use of forests as they are replaced by destructive tree plantations. The idea that these plantations will be on ‘marginal’ lands, and not compete with food or peoples’ livelihoods is false. Even so-called degraded lands often play a vital role in rural people’s livelihoods, providing medicinal plants, grazing and fuel wood.”
Genetically engineered trees pose a major new threat to forests, forest-dependent communities and the climate, says Anne Petermann from Global Justice Ecology Project. “Genetically engineered trees can spread their pollen and seeds for hundreds of kilometers. This means they can easily contaminate native forests, leading to severe impacts on forests and forest dependent peoples. Once this occurs, it is irreversible.”
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 The report Wood-based bioenergy: the green lie will be launched today, 2 June 2010, at a side-event at the UN Climate Change Talks in Bonn. The side event Burning forests or restoring forests? Industrial use of wood-based bioenergy and REDD contradictions takes places from 18.00 to 19.30 at room Air, FIDMED. The authors will be available for interviews.
For more information and interview requests:
Janneke Romijn, Global Forest Coalition
31 6 82.07.13.82, email@example.com
To read the report Wood-Based Bioenergy: The Green Lie visit: http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/news/view/197
To read the declaration Stop the Destruction of Forests and Lands for Wood-based Bio-energy visit: http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/news/view/195
More information on bioenergy: http://www.globalforestcoalition.org/paginas/view/244
The Global Forest Coalition is a worldwide network of NGOs and Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations from over 35 countries, working on rights-based forest policy. www.globalforestcoalition.org
Global Justice Ecology Project explores and exposes the intertwined root causes of social injustice, ecological destruction and economic domination with the aim of building bridges between social justice, environmental justice and ecological justice groups to strengthen their collective efforts. www.globaljusticeecology.org
Biofuelwatch campaigns against industrial bio-energy. www.biofuelwatch.org.uk