Voices of Enviva

Confronting Stories With Facts

By: Dr. Jennifer Jenkins, Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer

 

A few key facts: using Track & Trace data to inform the discussion

As the EU considers its renewable energy strategy this Fall, there has been a good deal of attention paid to biomass and bioenergy. Enviva often finds itself a target when people criticize bioenergy, and recent months have been no exception. Enviva believes just as strongly as our critics that we have a responsibility to protect forests, and our sourcing policies and practices reflect this. Today we’re publishing our most recent T&T data for January-June 2017 and we’d like to use this opportunity to make a few points — based on our data — that we believe illustrate our commitment to ensuring that biomass is a responsible alternative to coal.

  1. Enviva does not source from forests that will be converted to another use.

Enviva only sources from working forests where timber harvesting is the norm, and we simply do not purchase wood from tracts where the landowner does not intend to reforest: it’s our policy. Measured data from the US Forest Service back this up: in our supply regions (i.e. the area immediately around our mills where it is economically viable for us to purchase wood), there is more forest area now than there was when we opened our first US mill in 2011. The fact that every year there is more forestland than there was the year before is a direct result of the robust market for forest products that exists in the Southeastern United States generally, and in our supply regions specifically. Enviva is a key participant in that market, and we know that working forests work.

  1. Enviva’s pellets are made from low-grade wood that is a byproduct of a traditional timber harvest.

This can be hard to visualize, but foresters will tell you that from every forest harvest, there can be 5-6 “products” created. Those products are separated by the logger at the point of harvest, and getting that product separation right can mean the difference between making a profit or not for a given landowner.

Some of the trees are big, round, sound and straight, and these are good for sawtimber, which is used to make long-lived products like furniture and housing construction materials.

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • October 30, 2017

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  • Enviva’s sourcing supports the restoration of critical habitat in Florida

    By Ben Larson, Director of Sustainability 

    In the Florida panhandle, Enviva’s sourcing is proving to be a helpful conservation tool in restoring longleaf pine forests, which can be one of the most biodiverse forest types in North America.

    As a type of pine savanna, well-managed longleaf forests harbor many plant and animal species because their widely spaced trees let sunlight support a flourishing, ground-level plant community. Longleaf forests were once one of the major forest types in the region, covering over 90 million acres in the Southeast United States, but now only about 4 million acres of longleaf forests remain. Restoring 8 million acres of longleaf within 15 years is the focus of a concerted regional effort involving landowners, foresters, nonprofits, and state and federal agencies.

    “Chipping of overstocked stands and low quality hardwoods on upland longleaf sites can provide income to the landowner while simultaneously preparing the land to be restored to a functioning longleaf ecosystem. As the land is restored, it becomes more valuable to the landowner as well as the understory plants and rare wildlife that inhabit the longleaf forest. Put simply, fuel chipping can be an important part of longleaf ecosystem restoration.”

    Robert Abernathy, President of the Longleaf Alliance

    East of our Cottondale plant Enviva foresters and contractors are helping prepare 140 acres at Torreya State Park for longleaf restoration. The first step of restoration is removing brush and small-diameter trees, mostly sand pine but also some species of hardwoods. Chipping these materials to make pellets has compelling advantages over conventional logging, which became obvious during a recent visit to the Park with Enviva Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer Jenkins and Sustainability Forester Shawn Cook.

    On one side of the logging road, Enviva’s contractor had microchipped the brush and small trees, leaving the site cleared of residues and nearly ready to plant, with only minor site preparation left to do. A few live oak and other hardwood trees, which Florida Park Service Biologists marked for the loggers to leave for wildlife. The chipping operation didn’t noticeably disturb the soil.

    Enviva Sustainability Forester Shawn Cook is rightly proud of how Enviva’s purchasing practices can enable restoration: “By microchipping tracts like this, most of the fiber is utilized and site prep costs are drastically reduced, making restoration projects more feasible for the landowner,” says Cook.

  • By: Ben Larson

  • October 24, 2017

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  • Merchandising volume reflects regional variation

    A year’s worth of T&T data points out ecological differences in our sourcing regions

    Last month, Enviva reached an important milestone. With the publication of the third set of data from our Track & Trace forest supply chain tracking system, 15 months of Enviva’s sourcing data are now available in the Track & Trace section of our website. We hope you’ll explore the Enviva Wood Supply Map to learn more about the 1200+ harvests from which we sourced between October 2016 and March 2017. While you’re on the website you can go back in time too, by viewing the archived summary data on our wood supply, dating back to January 2016.

    A few highlights from the most recent release: enterprise-wide, about a quarter of our incoming wood (23 percent) came in as sawmill residues, and just under a third of our material (29 percent) was sourced from southern yellow pine forests, primarily as thinnings. The data also show that we continue to source the lowest-grade wood: on average, 31 percent of the wood from a given harvest was delivered to us, with the remaining volume going to other regional forest products markets.

    These aggregated summary statistics – the ones that pop up first on the website – provide a snapshot of our sourcing. They are helpful as sound bites and communication tools, but they tend to gloss over important regional differences between our sourcing regions. The U.S. South is home to a wide range of forest types and management practices, and the Track & Trace dataset – which summarizes our wood purchasing for all 6 of our mills in the SE US, from Virginia to Florida – underscores this diversity.

    We do break down the characteristics of the forests from which we source by region on the Wood Supply Map page of the website. We know, for example, that in the Chesapeake region we source wood from more mixed pine-hardwood forests than anywhere else, and we use more sawmill residues in our Southeast region than in our other regions. But there are important reasons for these differences, reflecting the ecological and market realities in the various forests where we operate.

    Percent merchandising at Cottondale

    As a specific example, information we collect on percent volume to Enviva, or the total proportion of wood from a harvest sent to Enviva versus other forest products consumers,

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • August 10, 2017

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  • Enviva’s Track and Trace Results Reinforce Sustainability Practices

    Today, we released the latest data from our innovative Track & Trace system. We now have 15 months of sourcing data and information, enabling us to provide unmatched transparency about the origin and sustainability of every truckload of wood that comes to Enviva directly from the forest. We know the precise condition of the forest and its habitats, the location of the harvest site, who owns the land, the type of forest, how it was harvested, the number of years since the last harvest, the number of acres harvested, and the percentage of the total harvested volume for each tract that came to us (and by implication, the amount that was purchased by traditional forest products users).

    As the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, Enviva depends on healthy and growing forests and the natural habitats they support. From day one, we have been steadfast in our dedication to our people, to the communities where we work, and to the resources we use to make our products. Sustainability is embedded in everything we do, and our commitment to responsible sourcing is grounded in a deep understanding of our supply chain. Simply put: we thrive with responsible sourcing practices.

    This wealth of data provides us with a detailed understanding of the wood we use. Most importantly, it helps us to ensure that our raw materials meet our rigorous sustainability requirements. The regional inventory data we summarize on our website also provides an assessment of our impact on the overall health of the forests in our region. As you can see for yourself, we can say, unequivocally, that forest area and inventory continue to increase in the areas where we operate.

  • By: John Keppler, CEO

  • July 20, 2017

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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  • Why do we invest?

    By: John Keppler, CEO

    Today, Enviva and the US Endowment for Forestry & Communities announced the grantees for the second year of the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund program. We were impressed by the very high quality of the projects that were proposed to us, and our only disappointment was that we couldn’t fund more of them. It is expensive to invest in forest conservation, but our grantees tell us that our unrestricted funds can often mean the difference between a project getting done or not. Five million dollars over 10 years is a big investment for a company of our size, and we are proud of our direct contribution to conserving the most sensitive forests in these working forest landscapes.

  • By: John Keppler, CEO

  • June 7, 2017

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  • Track & Trace Data Release: July–December 2016

    Today, we at Enviva are pleased to launch the second set of data from our Track & Trace (T&T) system, covering our wood supply from July to December 2016. The initial launch of our T&T website earlier this year sparked a lot of great conversations on Enviva’s sourcing practices, the role of biomass markets in the overall forest products supply chain, and the importance of family-owned working lands to the U.S. South’s vast forested landscape.

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • March 24, 2017

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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  • On Stakeholder Engagement

    At Enviva, we think a lot about stakeholder engagement. We understand that we have multiple groups of stakeholders — like any business, these stakeholders include our customers, regulatory agencies, and investors. But we must also consider the interests of our suppliers, our employees, our colleagues in the forest products industry, and our local communities, as well as landowners, environmental groups, and citizens. Speaking in the broadest terms possible, we might even say that the environment itself is a stakeholder.

    We don’t operate in a vacuum, and many people depend on our business. At times, it can even appear as if our stakeholders hold views contrary to one another — in these situations, our challenge is to understand the diverse concerns of the many people with a “stake” in our work. By engaging with people in an honest and mutually respectful dialogue, we believe that we can find solutions with positive outcomes for all concerned.

    Because we believe in open dialogue with our stakeholders, we have taken the unusual step of publishing our detailed sourcing data via the Track & Trace program. Because we believe in talking to people about how we can do things better, we brought together our Blue Ribbon Panel in May 2016 to discuss forest management in bottomland hardwoods. And because we believe in finding mutually beneficial outcomes we continue our work on responsible sourcing, most recently with our newly-assembled Bottomland Hardwoods Task Force.

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • February 14, 2017

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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  • First Enviva Forest Conservation Fund Project Is Complete

    When we established the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund (EFCF) together with the US Endowment for Forestry & Communities in November 2015, we envisioned a program that would – over the course of the following 10 years – contribute to the protection of at least 35,000 acres of sensitive forests in the counties where we work in NC and VA. We outlined a grant program that would augment the funds traditionally available for conservation purposes, enabling our partners to carry out projects that they might not otherwise be able to accomplish.

    As it turns out, forest conservation is really hard work. To arrange for any kind of easement on a piece of property requires sustained communication and collaboration among a group of dedicated individuals and institutions, culminating in the creation of a mutually agreeable plan for the landowner, the easement holder, and the institutions providing the funds. Negotiating these agreements can take a long time, but the outcome – strong partnerships among varied groups of people working toward a common goal – is absolutely worth the effort.

    That’s why we are so pleased today to announce the closing of our very first project under the EFCF. This project, which allows the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation to acquire an easement on roughly 220 acres (known as the Crowder and White tract) along 2.6 miles’ worth of river frontage on the State Scenic Nottoway River, was one of the first four projects granted under the EFCF in May 2016, the first year of the program. Additional funding was received from the landowner, and matching funds were provided by a North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant secured by Ducks Unlimited (DU).

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • February 6, 2017

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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  • Enviva Track & Trace

    Introducing Track & Trace: Enviva’s Forest Supply Chain Monitoring System

    Welcome!

    Thank you for your interest in our blog. At Enviva, we’re proud of the hard work we’ve been doing to advance sustainability, and we can’t wait to share what we’ve been up to.

    We’re launching “Voices of Enviva” to share our stories with you – our stakeholders – and we’ll do our best to update it frequently. We hope you’ll take the time to send us feedback about it as well – you can reach me at jennifer.jenkins@envivabiomass.com, or on Twitter at @jenkins_jen.

    Today, our big news is that we’ve released the first set of data about our wood supply that we gathered from January to June 2016 as part of our Track & Trace (T&T) system. This system and the accompanying public-facing website are the result of months of hard work and thousands of hours of sustained effort on the part of our professional foresters, our suppliers, and our sustainability team. Our commitment to transparency really is unprecedented in the forest products industry and I hope you’ll poke around in our T&T pages a bit.

  • By: Jennifer Jenkins

  • January 10, 2017

  • Sustainability, Voices of Enviva

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