The Forest Biomass Promise

By Jennifer Jenkins, PhD – Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer




At Enviva, we’re often asked: “Is biomass good for the climate?” Our answer is probably similar to yours: It can be, but it depends.

Not all biomass is good, and not all biomass is bad.

Here is what good biomass looks like to us:

  • Good biomass is made from low-value wood that is a by-product of a sawmill operation or a planned traditional timber harvest.
      • These by-products can be delivered directly from the forest, as tops, limbs, thinnings, and/or low-value smaller trees, or they can be delivered as secondary residues, like sawdust and shavings from industrial processing.
  • Good biomass is not made from larger, high-value trees that instead could be used for longer-lived products.
  • Good biomass comes from a region where forest carbon stocks are stable or increasing.
  • Good biomass comes from harvest practices that safeguard biodiversity.
  • Good biomass comes from a forest that is returned to forest after harvest, and not from land that will be converted to agriculture or development.

We believe that policies and safeguards are needed to ensure that good biomass is used for bioenergy to enable the energy transition while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting forest health. We work to hold ourselves to high standards as well; that is why we established our Responsible Sourcing Policy and why we continue to report on our work to implement it.

We also believe that it’s important for society to have access to good biomass for heat and power generation, because right now – when it matters most — it’s not technically or economically feasible for countries to switch completely to intermittent solar and wind. We believe that good biomass is a climate-friendly fuel, and we are hard at work to produce and deliver it in furtherance of a low carbon, renewable future.

Additional summarized background material on carbon accounting for bioenergy can be found in our new white paper, linked here, and accompanying infographic.