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SBP publishes draft regional risk assessments for the Baltics, invites comment

The Sustainable Biomass Partnership (SBP), an industry-led initiative by major biomass energy producers, is asking interested parties to provide feedback on draft regional risk assessments (RRA) for the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating any risks associated with sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet and wood chip production.

The SBP framework is designed to provide assurance that all feedstock is sourced legally and sustainably.

Peter Wilson, SBP executive director, says identifying and managing any risks that can prevent illegal and unsustainable sourcing of feedstock for the production of biomass and wood pellets is central to the role of SBP and its framework.

‘Having successfully concluded a pilot RRA in Lithuania, we extended the approach to Estonia and Latvia. We believe the RRA approach provides a framework for identifying woodlands with high conservation values and safeguarding them through appropriate management strategies,’ Wilson comments.

He also encourages interested parties to take part in the consultation in order to provide a wider perspective on the issue and help adopt the RRA approach in more countries.

Feedstock certified at the forest level through the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes and feedstock from recycled sources is automatically SBP compliant, but all other feedstock must be evaluated using a risk-based approach.

Typically, a biomass producer – with a pellet or wood chip mill – is responsible for carrying out the risk assessment and putting in place mitigation measures to manage any specified risks such that they can be considered as controlled and hence low risk.

It is the role of an independent, third-party certification body, approved by SBP, to check that the feedstock evaluation has been correctly undertaken. 

The purpose of an RRA is to evaluate an entire geographic region and determine the risks associated with sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet or wood chip production from that region, thus avoiding the need for individual biomass producers to conduct risk assessments.

Furthermore, RRAs are particularly valuable where statutory protection for forested land is limited.

Following a successful pilot, SBP commissioned RRAs for the three Baltic States.

Existing FSC risk assessments formed the basis of the RRAs, which were then supplemented with the additional elements required by SBP.

The draft RRAs can be viewed at http://www.sustainablebiomasspartnership.org/documents/consultation-documents/draft-regional-risk-assessments.

Written comments on the drafts and the RRA procedure can be sent to Melanie Wedgbury at mkwedgbury@sustainablebiomasspartnership.org by Friday, 16 October, 2015.