Forest Stewardship Council bans wood imports from Russia and Belarus

All certificates in Russia and Belarus that allow the sale or promotion of FSC products have been suspended

Big Zero Report 2022

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has decided to no longer recognise wood products coming from Russia and Belarus, stopping their imports for use in bioenergy systems.

They said due to the association of the forest sector in the two countries with armed invasion, no FSC-certified material or controlled wood from these countries will be permitted to be traded.

All certificates in Russia and Belarus that allow the sale or promotion of FSC products have been suspended, which means wood and other forest products can no longer be sourced as FSC-certified or controlled from the two nations for their inclusion in FSC products anywhere in the world.

The decisions are expected to place pressure on biomass feedstock availability in the immediate term, especially for biomass heating systems, with total European production expected to decrease by 12%-15%, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

FSC Director General, Kim Carstensen said: “All our thoughts are with Ukraine and its people and we share their hopes for a return to peace. We also express our sympathy with those people in Belarus and Russia who do not want this war.

“To continue to protect forests in Russia, FSC will allow forest management certificate holders in Russia the option of maintaining their FSC certification of forest management but no permission to trade or sell FSC-certified timber.

“We must act against aggression; at the same time, we must fulfil our mission of protecting forests. We believe that stopping all trade in FSC-certified and controlled materials and at the same time maintaining the option of managing forests according to FSC standards, fulfils both these needs.”

The REA believes the government must do more to help farmers and landowners to grow domestic biomass feedstocks, such as perennial energy crops and short rotation forestry, to both facilitate decarbonisation and help provide UK energy security.

Terence McCracken (Innasol), Chair of the REA’s Wood Heat Forum added: “The REA welcomes the commitments of biomass supply companies to urgently restructure their supply chains, ensuring that biomass feedstocks, such as wood pellets, will no longer be sourced from Russia or Belarus.

“The UK biomass heat industry is keenly aware of the impact this may have on biomass availability. The REA is committed to working with our members of the Wood Heat Forum, their suppliers, and broader sector stakeholders to help the industry diversify its supply chain and address the shortfall resulting from cutting Russian imports. As a result, it is essential that industry and government use the opportunity provided by lower heat demand in summer to reinforce supply chains in time for next winter.”

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