IrBEA launches guide for delivery of sustainable renewable fuel and fibre

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The Irish Bioenergy Association (IrBEA) has published a guide to Specified Biomass Harvesting (SBH) as part of sustainable forest management. Ireland has grown a significant forest resource over the past century since independence, with much of this forest resource now reaching harvest stage. Maximising the value of this harvest, while protecting the forest environment and optimising future crops are challenges that are being addressed through sustainable forest management.

To explain Noel Gavigan, IrBEA Technical Executive and co-author of the report said: “As a biomass fuel, SBH displaces fossil fuels with significant greenhouse gas savings. This is achieved through fossil displacement and avoidance of emissions from decaying residues on site. Where SBH is harvested reforestation costs can be lowered and regeneration is more uniform.”

SBH has the potential to provide a significant amount of renewable fuel while facilitating regeneration and closing the forest cycle.

Eugene Hendrick, chairman of the Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) added:Irish foresters and forest owners, and those involved in forest certification now have the guidance to hand to enable sustainable harvest of an additional forest energy assortment through SBH. This publication brings together previous research and summarises current best practice. Following the guidance will provide for better biomass and better future forests assurance to growers.

Donal Whelan, Technical Director of the Irish Timber Growers Association said: “This SBH document is a win-win for forest owners by improving returns, the environment by reducing replanting ground disturbance and windrowing requirements, and the State in facilitating the achievement of national bioenergy and climate change targets.”

Kenneth Worrell, Worrell Harvesting said: “I welcome the launch of this report which demonstrates the sustainability of our certified harvesting systems which is supported with our Log-Watch traceability system and will open the opportunity to sustainably harvest SBH from certified forests.”

Seán Finan, IrBEA CEO concluded: “We call on Minister Ryan and his Government to urgently recognise the significant role that solid biomass can play in decarbonising our energy uses. A basic first step is to recognise the potential of solid biomass in key Government policy documents and as a readily available decarbonisation option in achieving renewable energy targets. We need to also see an enhanced focus and increased promotion by Government, of the biomass support available through the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat (SSRH).