Today’s Wall Street Journal features this article, Europe’s Green-Fuel Search Turns to America’s Forests. Below are some highlighted snips from the article.
It’s interesting to me that while we often talk about the differences between logging practices in the U.S. and Canada, we don’t often compare logging practices between the U.S. and Europe. The general conventional wisdom from many logging industry supporters has been that logging practices in the U.S. are the best in the world and we need to do more logging in the U.S. or else we’ll be doing logging in other parts of the world where restrictions and oversight are more lax.
However, according to this article, the type of clearcut logging taking place in the swamps of North Carolina to feed Europe’s wood-burning biomass plants wouldn’t be allowed in countries such as Lithuania and Slovenia. Could it really be that Lithuania and Slovenia have stricter – and better – logging practices than the U.S. of A?
WINDSOR, N.C.—Loggers here are clear-cutting a wetland forest with decades-old trees.
Behind the move: an environmental push.The push isn’t in North Carolina but in Europe, where governments are trying to reduce fossil-fuel use and carbon-dioxide emissions.
Under pressure, some of the Continent’s coal-burning power plants are switching to wood.
But Europe doesn’t have enough forests to chop for fuel, and in those it does have, many restrictions apply. So Europe’s power plants are devouring wood from the U.S., where forests are bigger and restrictions fewer.
This dynamic is bringing jobs to some American communities hard hit by mill closures. It is also upsetting conservationists, who say cutting forests for power is hardly an environmental plus….
The logging is perfectly legal in North Carolina and generally so elsewhere in the U.S. South. In much of Europe, it wouldn’t be.
The U.K., for example, requires loggers to get permits for any large-scale tree-cutting. They must leave buffers of standing trees along wetlands, and they generally can’t clear-cut wetlands unless the purpose is to restore habitat that was altered by tree planting, said a spokesman for the U.K. Forestry Commission.
Italy and Lithuania make some areas off-limits for clear-cutting, meaning cutting all of the trees in an area rather than selectively taking the mature ones.
Switzerland and Slovenia completely prohibit clear-cutting. It is a common logging practice in the U.S.
U.S. wood thus allows EU countries to skirt Europe’s environmental rules on logging but meet its environmental rules on energy.