Watch This Video and Make up Your Own Mind About Biomass Subsidies

Do you feel a bit confused about what exactly biomass energy is and how it will affect our forests?

Have a think about this very simple fact – Trees grow very slowly and yet we can burn one in a matter of a minutes.

So how can biomass be a form of renewable energy?

Take a look at this video centred around Drax power station. Drax is the biggest single emitter of CO2 in the UK and on the way to being totally converted from burning coal to burning wood. Then make up your own mind about biomass subsidies and the effect that they are having on the world’s forests:

To find out more about why and how we’re campaigning about trees and the wise use of wood in the the UK, visit our website and see how you can support our initiatives.

Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation, Australia

Protecting and Planting Trees

This week the BBC reported on the Natural Capital Committee’s report.

The report stated that: ‘England’s natural environment is in decline and its deterioration is harming the economy.’

No big surprise there!

Currently we are burning our woodlands at an unsustainable rate that will cause severe damage to our wildlife and ecosystems. As the government continues to subsidise and incentivise energy giants to switch from burning coal to wood, the problem is escalating, and yes our natural environment will remain in decline and deterioration – therefore harming the economy.

The report calculates that ‘health costs can be reduced by cleaning up dirty air; floods can be tempered by creating new wetlands; and better green spaces in cities can tempt people outdoors to improve their physical and mental well-being.’

It goes on to claim that ‘planting woods near cities of up to 250,000 additional hectares can generate a benefit to society of £500m per annum as people exercise and enjoy nature. It says restoration of around 140,000 hectares of upland peat bogs would deliver net benefits of £570m over 40 years in storing carbon.’

All very true and of great value and interest to us here at Use Wood Wisely, we fully support any plans to increase planting of trees in the UK. However in the spirit of protecting England’s natural environment and stopping its decline and deterioration, there is one point that the report misses:

We should not only be encouraging new planting of woodland areas but we should be putting major focus on preserving the woodland and trees that we already have.

Sustainably managing our woodlands and promoting the wise use of wood in the UK is our starting point for this campaign. Planting new trees and more trees is fantastic but whilst the government incentivises energy giants like Drax to chop them down it is not a solution to the problem. Yes we need more trees but we should be making also the best of what we have already.

Incentives to burn UK wood for energy should be reduced and, if the economic and environmental arguments can be made, wood available from underutilised forest overseas should be incentivised and utilised to grow the wood available to the energy sector.

Environmentally the current energy subsidies are totally flawed and are causing the decline and deterioration that the Natural Capital Committee report speaks of. How? Because by cutting down trees for energy we are potentially diverting wood from products that retain carbon dioxide, and instead immediately releasing CO2 into the atmosphere during the burning process.

As a result we are calling upon the Government to enshrine the “Hierarchy of Wood Use” in law, to develop policies and incentives that reflect the principle, and to recognise the value of the wood processing sector in the battle against climate change.

Support our campaign here

Help us make sure British wood is made best use of and not burnt needlessly – join the Use Wood Wisely campaign today.


Biomass and Coal: Burning the future

As you know – here at Use Wood Wisely we are campaigning against wood being burnt by energy giants like Drax, in order to create electricity.

If we continue to convert energy plants to burn woody biomass we will destroy forests and woodlands around the world.  In 2006 in Europe alone 336 million m3 wood was burnt to generate energy and this is set to grow by nearly 37% unless we halt this insanity.

According to an estimate by the National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPS) the amount of woody biomass that will be burnt in Europe by 2020 will be 431 million m3.   Not only does this hugely affect the wildlife and ecosystems living within these forests but the carbon emissions, released as a result of unsustainable forestry, will cause catastrophic damage to the planet.

The idea that wood is a renewable energy source and therefore cleaner than a fossil fuel like coal, is in fact madness. The joint document created by Friends of the Earth, Green Peace and the RSPB, “Dirtier than Coal” explains fully the rationale behind this claim and is available to read here

If you feel as passionately about this subject as we do, or wish to gain more understanding then a public meeting being held at the beginning of February is well worth your time:

Meeting Details:

Thursday February 5th – Biomass and Coal ‘Burning the future’

Who will be there?

Biofuelwatch, Friends of the Earth and London Mining Network

There will be a speaker from a US alliance of conservation organisations – they are speaking in order to raise awareness of their country’s forests to produce pellets for Drax and other UK power stations.

Richard Solly from the London Mining Network will report back from his recent visit to the world’s largest opencast mine in Colombia, Cerrejon, where, according to Richard, this  mine is linked to brutal evictions, pollutions and malnutrition amongst local .

NB: Drax burns coal from Cerrejon and wood pellets from the southern .

What’s the objective?

To discuss the impacts of coal and wood pellets with a special focus on Drax.

In the southern US, remnants of highly biodiverse and carbon rich wetland forests are being destroyed for pellet production.

Help us make sure British wood is made best use of and not burnt needlessly – join the Use Wood Wisely campaign today.



3 Wood Inspired New Year’s Resolutions for 2015

Welcome back all! We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. We begin 2015 with some woody inspired resolutions. Don’t worry these resolutions don’t include losing weight or anything to do with alcohol – these could be the ones you actually stick to!

  1. Get Wood Wise

This is the year we want you to get wood wise and learn the facts. Not everyone can know about everything that’s going on in the planet, but if the information is in front of you then there’s no excuse. Get wood wise and make up your own mind about the wise use of wood in the UK. All you need do is download our reports and get swotting:

  1. Teach the kids

The younger generation of today are responsible for the future of our planet. We must take responsibility for educating them about the environment – if they are aware of issues such as illegal logging, deforestation and energy subsidies then they are eligible for an opinion. However without the knowledge or understanding on what they need to do to protect and sustain the planet, we are in danger of losing grip on our world. Check out our video from the Wood Wise Owl and get them clued up on why it’s important to support the wise use of wood in the UK:

  1. Pledge Your Support

After all that Use Wood Wisely swotting – now you can do something proactive with your new found knowledge: Help us to lobby government and raise issues in the media about the unwise use of wood in the UK. In showing your support you are helping to look after the environment, ensure there is a planet for future generations and protect our wildlife. Now who wouldn’t want to make that their New Year’s Resolution?!

Pledge Your Support Here:

Thanks for all the support we have received in 2014, let’s try to make 2015 even more productive!

Help us make sure British wood is made best use of and not burnt needlessly – join the Use Wood Wisely campaign today.




Brands That Support Using Wood Wisely

As most of you know, here at Use Wood Wisely, we are pretty keen on wood being approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Pretty keen is an understatement, we are actually red hot on wood being FSC approved. The FSC stamp on a piece of timber means that it that it has been sourced from a forest that meets the standard for responsible forest management; endorsed by the WWF and the Woodland Trust.

Our campaign aims to encourage consumers to choose products with the FSC label, if enough of us support FSC approved wood it may become law in the UK to help protect the world’s forests. What’s reassuring to research is that there are lots of other big brands out there supporting the FSC. These brands are not your average timber user, yet where wood resources come into their packaging they are making sure that it is FSC approved.

So if they can do it, why can’t we all?

Innocent Smoothies:

Most of us know Innocent for their wacky packaging and messaging. However their commitement to the environment is far from wacky. Innocent have been pioneering the use of food grade recycled plastic in their little bottles of juice since 2003 and in 2013 they saved over 1000 tonnes of plastic by ‘putting all their juice carafes on a diet’. All their cartons big and small are made from 100% FSC approved material.

Ben and Jerry’s:

Now you can enjoy a tub of cookie dough ice cream with a fraction less of the guilt. Do take note of the word fraction however – it’s guilt free packaging, not guilt free eating!

Ben and Jerry’s state on their website that: ‘In recent years we’ve focused on ensuring that all the paperboard used in our pint cartons and novelty boxes comes from environmentally friendly sources. Today all of our global paperboard packaging has Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification with the exception of a small amount of packaging for our quart containers. FSC certification means that the pulp in the paperboard comes from forests that are managed for the protection of wildlife habitat, maintenance of biodiversity, and other forest sustainability criteria.’


LEGO have a target audience that is particularly important when it comes to the environment – the youth of today. It’s our responsibility to provide a world for future generations, but it’s also crucial that we educate them in how they can do the same. Although LEGO are one of the newest additions to the FSC party, they are making some significant changes:  Since June 2014, new LEGO products have been sold in smaller boxes certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Producing the boxes uses on average 14% less paper while supporting certified and responsibly managed forests.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, President and Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group recently said:

‘The FSC logo on the box may seem insignificant when you see it for the first time, but it is a major milestone for us, and an important element in our efforts to become carbon positive by 2016. As a responsible company, we want to help preserve the forests, their wildlife and all of their inhabitants to the benefit of the environment and future generations. Making our packaging more sustainable and using forest resources wisely are some of the ways we support our environmental ambitions, and I hope this may also inspire children to think about how we can build a better tomorrow. We will certainly continue to look for ways to improve and lower our direct impact on the planet.’

Some great examples here of big brands taking an environmentally friendly approach to business – let’s hope others catch on as well.

Help us make sure British wood is made best use of and not burnt needlessly – join the Use Wood Wisely campaign today.