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Drax Group becomes Earthworm Foundation member
Drax Group becomes Earthworm Foundation member
News 12 Feb 2019

Operator of the UK’s largest renewable power generator to work towards healthy forests and a sustainable wood pellet supply chain using a ‘Healthy Forests Landscapes’ approach.

Nyon, Switzerland - Today, Drax Group, a British electrical power company and the UK’s largest renewable power generator, joins Earthworm Foundation, an international non-profit organisation (formerly known as ‘The Forest Trust’), to ensure ‘Healthy Forest Landscapes’ in their wood pellet sourcing areas that contribute to the protection of forests and local communities.

With 20 years of experience supporting companies to transform their supply chains, Earthworm Foundation will also help Drax realise its zero-carbon ambition. Already, Drax has converted two-thirds of its coal-fired capacity to biomass sourced from replanted or naturally regenerated production forests, making it the UK’s largest renewable power generator.

Using woody biomass instead of coal puts less fossil carbon into the atmosphere, which is a positive for the Earth’s climate. However, now more than ever forests are a resource that need to be monitored carefully, particularly because they are under ever increasing pressure to supply paper, packaging, tissues, cellulose, charcoal, biomass, as well as clean air and carbon stocks.

This is why, through their partnership, Earthworm Foundation and Drax are looking to broaden transformation across the company’s supply chain, beyond sustainability compliance. Attaining a balance between healthy, functioning ecosystems, protection of biodiversity, maintenance of carbon stocks, responsible wood production, and respect for local communities is thus one of the primary long-term objectives of the partnership.

To achieve this balance, Earthworm Foundation and Drax have been developing a pioneering ‘Healthy Forest Landscapes’ approach to understand the forest landscapes in which Drax sources its wood pellets. Forest cover, carbon stocks, biodiversity and socio-economic well-being in all of Drax’s wood pellet sourcing regions will be closely monitored and discussed with stakeholders. Concretely, this approach will bring together remote sensing technology and other technical, ecological and social expertise, and combine it with local views and priorities through direct engagement, particularly with forest owners and operators, civil society actors and other industries that use these forest resources.

During the first year of the partnership, developing and piloting the Healthy Forest Landscape approach will be the main priority, beginning with Drax Biomass’s own wood sourcing regions within Louisiana and Mississippi.

Both Drax and Earthworm Foundation recognise that many respected local and international environmental NGOs are concerned about the growth of large-scale biomass for electricity, and its potential impacts on forests, as well as on CO2 emissions. As part of this partnership, Earthworm Foundation and Drax will seek honest, constructive dialogue with these groups to fully understand concerns and, where possible, involve them in work regarding key forest landscapes, and take positive action based on any results.

“For the past two years we have worked with Drax to understand their values, their goals, and their business model, and we have visited all of their main wood sourcing regions and operations, so today we are excited to announce this partnership” said Bastien Sachet, Earthworm Foundation’s CEO. “Drax is on a journey to supply energy with the lowest possible impact for our planet and we want to support them in achieving that ambitious goal. Our respective journeys meet around the shared ambition to make Drax’s woody biomass sourcing a positive leverage for forest health and for people. The Healthy Forest Landscape approach that we are jointly developing makes it possible for a company like Drax to engage closely with the forest issues in its supply chain and achieve transformation where it is necessary.”

Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said, “We are delighted to be partnering with Earthworm; Drax’s transformation into the biggest decarbonisation project in Europe has led to the creation of a robust supply chain and adherence to a stringent sustainability criteria. However, we are keen to do more, and this partnership supports Drax’s zero-carbon and responsible pellet sourcing aspirations. By engaging directly with forest communities in the areas in which we source, we want to ensure that healthy, sustainably managed working forests thrive.”

Regular updates on the partnership's progress will be provided on the website.

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Notes to editors

About Earthworm Foundation

Earthworm Foundation is a non-profit organisation with 20 years’ experience working in the forestry sector. It is built on values and driven by the desire to positively impact the relationship between people and nature. With most of its staff operating directly on the ground where the issues are, it works with its members and partners to show that global supply chains can be an engine of prosperity without causing destruction of communities or ecosystems.

About Drax

Drax Group’s ambition is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. Its 2,600-strong staff operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies six percent of the country’s electricity needs.

Having converted two thirds of Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe.

Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan. It also owns and operates four gas power stations in England.

B2B supply:

Drax owns two B2B energy supply businesses:

  • Haven Power, based in Ipswich, supplies electricity and energy services to large Industrial and Commercial sector businesses.
  • Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, provides electricity, energy services and gas to small and medium sized (SME) businesses.

Pellet production:

Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US South which manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. These pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.

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