Sustainability of forest bioenergy feedstock supply chains: Local, national and international policy perspectives

Evelyne Thiffault, Jody Endres, James S.N. McCubbins, Martin Junginger, Miren Lorente, Uwe Fritsche

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2009, the European Union (EU) Renewable Energy Directive (RED) mandated that 20% of the EU's final energy consumption consist of renewable sources by 2020, and included sustainability criteria for liquid biofuels. Discussions around extending criteria to solid and gaseous biomass, including wood pellets, have been ongoing. Continued investment in forest bioenergy feedstock production is partly dependent on the stability of global market demand and the economic viability of feedstock production and trade. For trans-boundary governance mechanisms such as the RED to be efficient, a proper assessment of the specific forest and land policy contexts of wood pellet exporters that the mechanism will affect, such as Canada, the USA, and Russia, is crucial. This paper builds on sustainability criteria for biodiversity protection and assurance of sustainable forest management (SFM) for woody biomass that are currently under discussion for inclusion in the RED and compares them with national and local regulations of those three countries. This illustrates potential challenges in the establishment of sustainability criteria related to: differences in land definitions, delineation and reporting systems; lack of a uniform definitional paradigm for SFM; and difficulties in establishing efficient monitoring/auditing systems. Regulators wanting to implement supra-national sustainability schemes such as the EU RED need to be aware of challenges that such schemes carry and make efforts to reduce or eliminate pitfalls. There is also a need to assess the aggregated effects of these various tools, and a need for communication, collaboration and outreach among stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-292
Number of pages10
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • International trade
  • No-go areas
  • Primary forests
  • Sustainability criteria
  • Sustainable forest management
  • Woody biomass

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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