Enviva, the wood pellet manufacturer, will give $295,000 in grants to two conservation groups to protect bottomland forests along the Neuse and Roanoke rivers.
The Maryland-based company has come under fire from environmentalists for cutting down hardwood trees that its mills then turn into wood pellets that are burned by European power plants.
The N.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy will receive $195,000 toward the $935,000 purchase of about 1,300 acres of forested wetlands on the Roanoke River in Washington County. The Triangle Land Conservancy will receive $100,000 to help acquire a conservation easement on 127 wooded acres near Beaverdam Lake and the Neuse River east of Raleigh. Two grants totaling $205,000 were awarded for similar programs in Virginia.
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund focuses on about 35 North Carolina and Virginia counties that include approximately six million acres of forests of all types. Enviva, which has pellet mills in eastern North Carolina and Virginia, established the nonprofit conservation fund to award the grants, to be administered by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
Enviva, which began operations in North Carolina in 2011, currently owns and operates pellet plants in Ahoskie and Northampton County, near Roanoke Rapids. Two new N.C. projects – an export terminal at the Port of Wilmington and a Sampson County pellet production plant – are under construction and expected to begin operations this summer.