An evaluation of the UK's use of SFM standards to procure solid woody biomass for electricity generation using sustainable bioenergy criteria

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© 2015 Taylor & Francis. The threat of climate change and depletion of its fossil fuels has pushed the UK to aggressively pursue renewable energy sources for power production. According to its National Renewable Energy Action Plan, the UK hopes to generate 30% of its electricity demand by 2020 from renewable sources, with energy from biogenic sources accounting for approximately 22.3% of renewable generation. The UK requires that all woody biomass imported to help meet these renewable electricity goals provide evidence of legal and sustainable sourcing and, at a minimum, save 60% in GHG emissions compared to fossil fuels. Under its Timber Standard for Heat & Electricity, the UK recognizes woodfuel imported from US forests certified by Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as meeting this requirement. This study evaluates SFI and FSC sustainable forest management certification programs using criteria found in the scholarly literature for sustainable bioenergy feedstock production. The author argues that the sustainability of UK woody biomass imports for electricity would be improved by coupling sustainable forest management programs with a bioenergy sustainability scheme as designed by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials.

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