3 Takeaways from the 2024 SFI Conference

By Kyla Cheynet, Director of Sustainability, Drax US

I was delighted to be joined by my colleagues and industry leaders at the annual Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI) conference that took place in Atlanta, Georgia from June 4-6. This year’s conference featured a diverse line-up of inspirational presentations and panel discussions that demonstrate the value of SFI®  certification to achieving nature, people, and climate positive benefits in working forests. 

Biomass is a key element in the road to net zero

At Drax, we aim to be a global leader in sustainable biomass. Sustainably sourced biomass is a renewable, low carbon source of energy and a key element in the road to net zero. This is at the heart of our purpose. Additionally, sustainable biomass can play an important role in supporting forest health. Well-managed forests are effective at absorbing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. 

Biomass plays an important role in forest management

We are committed to sourcing sustainable biomass that achieves both decarbonization and positive forest outcomes. Drax forms part of a wider forest industry where forest management is geared primarily towards producing material for the construction and manufacturing sector. The material we use to make pellets includes sawmill and forest residuals as well as low-grade roundwood – wood that is not suitable for sawmilling or cannot access higher-value markets.   

Markets for low-grade roundwood, including the by-products of thinning operations and regeneration harvests in the U.S. South, encourage sustainable forest management practices. For example, thinning, an intermediate harvesting technique which removes trees from forests in order to regulate stand density, increase growth, maintain forest health, reduce wildfire hazard, and improve biodiversity by allowing more sunlight to hit the forest floor.   

Partnering with other organizations creates tremendous synergies

An incredible testament to the power of conservation partnership was highlighted by the “Conservation of Species at Risk in SFI-certified Forests” panel chaired by Dr. Healy Hamilton SFI’s Chief Scientist. The discussion, which included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, non-profit conservation groups, and forest industry participants, highlighted the benefits that forest management and sourcing, guided by SFI certification, can have on the maintenance and recovery of at-risk species 

I’m proud that Drax pellet plants in the US are all currently certified, or actively in the process of certifying, to both the SFI Fiber Sourcing and SFI Chain of Custody Standards (SFI-01578). We also source directly from corporate landowners who are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard.  SFI certification helps not only provide a framework for assuring and verifying sustainability, it supports us in our efforts to achieve Nature, People, and Climate Positive outcomes.  

Learn more about our work on sustainability at https://www.drax.com/us/sustainability/

*SFI marks are registered marks owned by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc.