Mysterious tree labels and who’s behind them…

Make something with wood

More mysterious labels?

More details are slowly emerging about the mysterious tree labels that have been tied to trees in central London.

It seems its a campaign backed by The Wood Panel Industries Federation to put pressure on the government to change the subsidy regime for electricity generators and stop the UK’s wood resources being burned for biomass energy.

Other strange labels have also been attached to street furniture like benches and tables, which thank passersby for not burning the tree and making something with the wood instead. Also there was a giant game of Jenga in Victoria Station and there is supposed to be a pledge tree in Spitalfields from Friday to Sunday (November 11-13).

If you see any of this activity going on we would love to know what you think… The message ‘Stop Burning Our Trees’ certainly makes sense to us!

Strange labels on trees appearing in London…

Please don't burn me

Mysterious labels appearing on trees and benches...

It seems that London trees are fighting back against being burned for power generation by the biomass industry.

Mysterious labels have been appearing on trees in Westminster that read ‘Please don’t burn me!’. Also, a number of bus and tube adverts have been spotted that support the strange messages.

If you want to know more then it seems people are being sent to a website called Stop Burning Our Trees.

Sunday’s Guardian: Biomass schemes will boost destructive timber imports, claims wood industry

The Guardian online

The Guardian (Sunday September 11, 2011)

Check out The Guardian on-line on Sunday September 11, 2011, which has finally run a story about the concerns of wood companies and green campaigners about subsidies to power companies that threaten both jobs and rainforests.

The article says that big wood companies are trying to halt Drax, RWE and others pressing ahead with a raft of lower-carbon energy schemes which would see large power stations switch from burning coal to timber.

The wood industry fears thousands of jobs in its factories will be threatened by the “green” power plans and wants government to remove the subsidies facilitating them.

Wildlife and environmental groups are also alarmed that the new biomass schemes could trigger a huge escalation in wood imports and threaten rainforests.

Check out the full story by Terry Macalister.

Chaotic UK biomass demand in danger of fuelling landgrab in developing countries

Energy & Environmental Management

Get the full story at Energy & Environmental Management

According to a new report from the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), increasing demand for woodfuel worldwide, including in the UK, is helping to increase the number of foreign-owned plantations in developing countries, at the cost of food security.

At the same time, the amount of waste wood being exported from the UK to the continent for fuel is expanding “very rapidly” and could account for up to 500,000 tonnes of material by the end of the year, says Toby Beadle, technical advisor for the Wood Recyclers’ Association.

You can check out the full story at Energy & Environmental Management but interesting information includes:

  • Rising UK demand alone, fuelled by the Renewable Heat Incentive and other initiatives, could lead to an almost doubling of world trade in wood chips and pellets, according to John Clegg Consulting. Wood already accounts for 67% of global renewable energy supplies.
  • Waste wood can only meet part of the expected rise in UK demand, which is partly due to the UK’s National Renewable Energy Action Plan, which stipulates that under the European Renewable Energy Directive the UK must reach a target for 15% of energy consumption in 2020 to be from renewable sources.
  • Europe is not alone in creating a higher global demand for woodfuel: in South Korea, the recently approved Renewable Portfolio Standard requires utilities to source 10% of their electricity supplies from new and renewable sources, including biomass, by 2022, and in the United States a quarter of all national energy is to be supplied from renewable sources, including biomass, by 2025.

Burning wood is the most carbon intensive use of this resource

Lock-in CO2

The humble chair locks in CO2 for its lifetime

Wood harnessed for biomass energy at the end of its life is a sound proposition, but current subsidies encourage electricity generators to burn virgin wood, which is disastrous for CO2 emissions.

Wood products have the unique ability to store CO2 from the atmosphere. Everything from a wooden garden chair, dining room table and kitchen worktop is a store for CO2 emissions.

The growing forests are carbon sinks, absorbing and storing huge volumes of CO2 from the environment. Then when the wood is processed it locks carbon away for the lifetime of the product. So, we need to use wood, reuse it and recycle it to ensure its potential benefit to the environment is maximised. Then we can burn it for biomass energy.

The total carbon stored in Europe’s wood products is estimated to be 60m t C, the equivalent of 240 million tonnes of CO2 captured from the atmosphere by the trees.

The more wood products replace other materials, the more CO2 is impounded from the atmosphere. That’s why it makes little environmental sense to burn wood for biomass fuel right at the start of its lifecycle.

For more environmental information take a look at the European Panel Federation (EPF) Environment Fact Sheet.

Wood prices will continue to rise

Kronospan warns of price rises

Kronospan warns of prices rises

One of the UK’s largest wood panel plants is warning of sustained price rises due to an unprecedented increase in raw material costs. And government subsidies to the biomass industry for burning wood are making matters worse, it says.

Kronospan’s CEO, Ludwig Scheiblreiter, is cautioning customers not to try to absorb any increase in prices. Instead distributors and retailers must pass the rises down the supply line now or face serious financial implications, because the increases are here to stay and more are expected.

All the raw materials – timber, chemicals and energy – used for wood panel production are under accelerating supply pressures, which is relentlessly pushing up prices across Europe.

Ludwig says: “This year will be critical and decisive, even without the effects of the new age of austerity. This is not a wave any of us will be able to sit out, nor will any of us be able to continue the absorption of cost increases within the supply chain.”

Subsidies – worth up to four times the current price levels of timber residues and post consumer wood waste – are being paid to the biomass industry to burn wood to create electricity. The well meaning but ill conceived legislation on the generation of renewable energy is squeezing the availability of the core raw material and increasing prices.

In addition, the main chemical used in resin for the wood panel industry process is urea. More than 90% of urea is needed as fertiliser to meet expanding worldwide demand for food. This is obviously putting pressure on supply and with crude oil up 40% the chemical industry’s price demands are rising.

Subsidies paid to the biomass industry are being funded via the cost of electricity, again pushing up price. Add to this tightening rules on carbon trading, continuing price rises in oil and gas, and the UK’s structural supply problems, and there is perpetual strain on energy demand.

Ludwig says: “The industry urgently needs to set up the right structures to secure future supply as price alone will not guarantee availability. These changes will be enormous. The UK is still slightly behind many Western European countries but, with its comparatively low share of forestry, it is catching up fast.

“In Germany and surrounding countries these raw material pressures have already led to major reductions in production capacities and price levels for panel products are up to 25% higher than the current UK levels.”

Ludwig insists there are still things the industry can do to keep price increases to a minimum. The key action is for everyone to campaign to abolish subsidies to the biomass industry for burning still useable wood. Anyone can do this by supporting the Wood Panel Industry Federation’s (WPIF) Make Wood Work campaign. For more information go to www.makewoodwork.co.uk.

The subsidies directly threaten not only Europe’s wood panel manufacturing industry but also all its associated customers, from furniture makers to the construction industry. Wood should only be burnt at the very end of its useful life cycle.

Ludwig says: “The best will survive and we’re committed to further improving our technology, products and service for the long term. Our goal is to provide all the tools the supply chain needs to compete in the global market, to replace imports, build markets abroad and keep price increases to a minimum with tight cost management and efficiency gains.”