The World Bioenergy Association, has published a new fact sheet on forest sustainability and carbon neutrality.  The report from the World Bioenergy Association, emphasizes the fact that carbon debt and payback theories are based on unrealistic assumptions and that biomass is carbon neutral. It is a fundamental requirement of sustainable forestry that the carbon stock in forests remains stable or increases over time.

This report seems to be critic while one of the controversies surrounding bioenergy regards the effect that the production and use of biofuels has on the Earth’s climate.

Life-cycle analysis (LCA), a tool for calculating the overall environmental impact of a product or process, has been used to assess the net effect of biofuels on the emissions of greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide, CO2). The validity of including “indirect” impacts of biofuel production, especially indirect land conversion is central to this “net emissions” debate.  This is the case of  conversion of grasslands to croplands, or forests to plantations  — and the scale of such impacts -.

We attached here the summary  of this report for your consideration.


The use of forest biomass is carbon-‐neutral, because the carbon contained in wood originates from the  atmosphere and it is released to the atmosphere by wood decay or by combustion. Before a tree can be burned it has to grow by absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. Theories on carbon debt and ‘payback time’ of biomass are not credible, because they are based on the unrealistic assumption that trees are first burned and then grown!

It is a fundamental requirement of sustainable forestry that the carbon stock in forests remains stable or increases over time. Deforestation and unsustainable forest management lead to a decline of the carbon stock in the forest – this has to be avoided. The forests are part of the global carbon pool atmosphere -‐biospheres within which the carbon moves as part of the natural carbon cycle.

The carbon released by burning fossil fuels is not part of the ‘natural’ carbon cycle. It rapidly increases the CO2 content of the atmosphere. In 2011 about 90% of total CO2 emissions were caused by burning fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels creates a carbon debt that will be a huge burden for future generations.

Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has to be the core strategy with regards to future climate policies. Utilizing biomass from sustainably managed forests can play an important role in this strategy. Several countries have demonstrated that a build up of carbon in forests and an increase of forest biomass for energy is simultaneously achievable by good forest management practice. Claims are being made, that trees should rather be left to grow to stock further CO2 and not be harvested. This is no solution however, because forests stop to grow as soon as trees are mature. It would also mean not to use the sustainable products from forests: timber, paper, energy and to replace them by fossil fuel based products.

The WBA favors a global afforestation program to reach a net increase in the global forest area by 100 million ha by 2025, sustainable forest management worldwide and more utilization of forest biomass instead of fossil fuels. To avoid a reduction of carbon sequestered in forests due to the growing demand for solid biomass governments are urged to enforce a forest management policy in their countries based on the principle of sustainability. The WBA proposes to introduce sustainability criteria as developed by the WBA since 2009. Certification systems based on these criteria should be introduced for consumers or traders of large quantities of solid biomass. Note: This fact sheet explains the role of biomass from forests in the global carbon cycle. WBA sees an urgent need for this clarification on this issue after having analyzed the different opinions being discussed. This paper does not deal with emissions along the supply chain from the forest to the final consumer.

Download whole report in PDF here