First Biomass Pellet Mill in United States to Receive FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certification

June 18, 2009

The Rainforest Alliance's SmartWood program has certified the first biomass pellet mill in the United States to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards, a significant step in the FSC's entry into renewable energy sources. Curran Renewable Energy, LLC, based in Massena, New York, is the first FSC Chain-of-Custody certified producer and distributor of wood pellets for national and international markets. Produced by compressing pulverized dry biomass -- in this case from wood -- biomass pellets are an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional energy sources like coal, which emits more carbon dioxide (the gas largely responsible for global warming) when burned for fuel.

"With global concerns over the world's dependence on fossil fuels, governments and businesses are looking for renewable energy alternatives," explains Richard Donovan, Rainforest Alliance chief of forestry. "The certification of the first biomass pellet mill in the United States opens up a new industry to the FSC system. FSC-certified products can be found in all wood and paper markets including building materials, decking, flooring, packaging, furniture, books, magazines and business papers."

"With the increasing importance of biomass as a source of energy, businesses are recognizing the risks that could result from placing increased pressure on finite forest resources to fill the demand for their production," explains Dave Bubser, SmartWood regional manager for the Rainforest Alliance. "The FSC/Rainforest Alliance certification acts as a guarantee to consumers and producers that their efforts to promote energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions are not compromised by destructive impacts to forests, communities and wildlife that can result from overharvesting. Curran Renewable Energy's efforts establish FSC certification as a guide for balancing environmental and social values with the production of forest-based biofuels."

Wood Pellets

By making the commitment to FSC certification, Curran Renewable Energy is leading the way for other biomass energy producers by sourcing from well-managed forests that conserve biodiversity and ensure long-term productivity. Curran's FSC/Rainforest Alliance Certified wood pellets use wood fiber from FSC-certified forests in northern New York State. These certified forests have undergone rigorous FSC forest management certification processes. The FSC-certified wood is harvested by Seaway Timber Harvesting Inc., a family-owned business based in the northern Adirondack region of New York, run by Patrick, Timothy and Lee Curran. Seaway Timber Harvesting Inc. has been in the forestry business for 19 years.

"We have been harvesting FSC timber on land that is either managed or owned by Fountain Forestry, LandVest, New York State and Northwood Forest Consultants all in New York State," said Patrick Curran, president and CEO of Seaway Timber Harvesting Inc. and Curran Renewable Energy. "Over the past several years, we have seen demand increase for FSC fiber in both the paper and lumber industry. We feel this demand will carry over into the wood pellet market, giving us a better opportunity to develop within that market."

FSC is the global standard-setter in responsible forest management. Chain-of-custody certification guarantees that wood that comes from certified, responsibly managed forestlands is tracked throughout the supply chain, from the forest to the consumer. Conscientious consumers can look for the FSC label on wood products to know they are supporting forest management that protects biodiversity and supports local communities.

FSC certification ensures that forestry operations meet a set of environmental, social and economic criteria covering compliance with laws and international treaties, land-use and indigenous peoples' rights, community relations, biodiversity conservation and maintenance of high-conservation value forests, among other things.

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