We often hear about deforestation and environmental sustainability problems but this terminology is often used improperly, generating confusion and leading to the wrong conclusions.
Let’s try then to disprove some false myths and understand why heating with biomasses is a totally sustainable choice, both from a social-economic viewpoint and for the environment.
Does burning wood and pellets for warmth destroy our forests?
There is just one, simple answer to this question: it absolutely does NOT! On the contrary, choosing wood or pellet-burning stoves and fireplaces sourced from sustainably managed forests favours the conservation and protection of our forests as well as contributing to limiting climate change to the advantage of the whole planet.
AIEL – Associazione Italiana Energie agroforestali (the Italian Agroforestry Energy Association) with the project “Energia dal legno”(Energy from wood) thoroughly explained why, identifying and disproving 3 myths.
- FALSE: Italian forests are disappearing. In actual fact, Italian forests are continuously growing: they have increased by 120% from 1960 to 2018, going from 5.5 million hectares to 11.7 million, i.e. +1000 m2 every second.
- FALSE: To save our forests we need to stop felling trees. In actual fact, the exact opposite is true because felling too few trees would result in unmanaged forests abandoned to themselves. On the contrary, sustainable forest stewardship is required to save our forests, i.e. less trees must be felled than those growing in it. Developing trees store CO2, removing it from the atmosphere and thus contributing to protect the climate from global warming.
- FALSE: Wood and pellet-fuelled heating appliances destroy trees. In this case too, the opposite is true. If the wood and pellets used come from sustainably-managed forests, burning biomasses for heating purposes is a decidedly eco-friendly choice. It results in continuously-growing forests and various types of products can be made from each tree, such a wood planks, firewood and pellets. Moreover, the upkeep of a forest also creates an excellent number of related activities which result in new jobs and the production of sustainable and renewable energy that is always available.
Some information about European forests
The very important“Restoration of Eco-systems”topic was chosen for the 2021 World Environment Day on which the United Nations pointed out how important it is to bring billions of hectares of forests, farmland and sea beds all over the world back to life, starting from small, individual actions.
But how is Europe doing from this point of view? According to data from Forest Europe, made available thanks to the support of UNECE and of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the environmental policies implemented in recent decades have had a positive impact: notwithstanding a simultaneous progressive increase in the use of wood, European forests have benefited from ongoing expansion, achieving a growth of +9% in the last 30 years.
This important data is proof that using biomasses for heating purposes does not destroy our ecosystem at all; instead, it is part of a virtuous cycle that promotes environmental sustainability and prevents waste. In fact, most of this fuel is made from off-cuts from the timber industry, mainly produced by sawmills.
To be absolutely sure you are using biomass-produced heat in a truly eco-friendly way just keep two things in mind:
- Choose technological and certified products, such as Palazzetti fireplaces and stoves, capable of drastically reducing PM10 emissions (by opting for Italian Aria Pulita and European Ecodesign 2022 certified products for instance).
- Choose certified firewood and pellets (like ENPlus certified pellets), i.e. produced applying sustainable forest management principles.
Our eco-sustainable future is already here.