The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in collaboration with CBI, released the report “In the U.S. Southeast, Natural Forests are Being Felled to Send Fuels Overseas”.

This report details the threats facing Southeastern U.S. Forests from the wood pellet industry which has seen a 150 percent increase in wood pellet exports between 2012-2015. The report claims that 24 million acres of unprotected Southeastern forest lands are at risk and predicts that pellet manufacturing could increase to be twelve times larger than it currently is by 2020.

The NRDC is advocating for the EU to enact more stringent standards for biomass carbon accounting and demand caps on biofuel energy generation to ensure demand does not outstrip supply.


In the ecologically rich natural forests of the southeastern United States, the buzz of tree cutting is replacing the twitter of songbirds, the rat-a-tat of woodpeckers, and the splash of fishing lines. Energy markets are driving a new and frenzied demand for trees from the region (commonly referred to as woody biomass). The epicenter of this new market demand is in Europe, where power companies are seeking alternatives to coal and other fossil fuels and increasingly turning to woody biomass in the form of pellets to fuel their power plants. Europe’s forests are often highly regulated, so European power companies have had to look abroad to source wood fuel, turning to the largely  unregulated forests of the American south for fresh supplies. Together, eight states in the southeastern United States- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia- now make up the top exporting region for wood pellets to the European Union, with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Belgium being the top importers.

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