BETHESDA, Md. – Enviva, the world’s largest producer of wood pellets, says the company is committed to protecting forests and environmentally sensitive areas in the region.
Through its subsidiaries, Enviva Holdings, LP, owns and operates plants in the Southeast that produce nearly 3 million metric tons of wood pellets annually for export to power plants in the United Kingdom and Europe that previously were fueled by coal.
The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is a $5 million, 10-year program established in December 2015 by Enviva Holdings, a limited partnership, to permanently protect environmentally sensitive bottom-land and wetland forests. The fund awards grants annually to nonprofit organizations and government agencies for conservation projects in North Carolina and Virginia and is administered by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
The fund announced the following 2017 grant recipients in June:
- Ducks Unlimited – $175,000 to assist with the acquisition of more than 6,000 acres in Camden County.
- North Carolina Coastal Land Trust – $200,000 to help acquire 1,000 acres in Bertie County for a new state natural area with public access along the Chowan River and Salmon Creek. It also is the site of an archaeological study to determine if this property is where members of the Roanoke Island “Lost Colony” may have relocated for a time.
- Virginia Department of Forestry – $125,000 to support a conservation easement on more than 1,000 acres in Sussex County, Virginia.
“Our local conservation partners – Ducks Unlimited, the Virginia Department of Forestry, and the North Carolina Coastal Land Trust – have come through with some sensational projects in this second year of the program,” said Carlton N. Owen, president and CEO of the endowment. “Not only will their good work lead to more than 8,000 acres of sensitive forestland being protected, but the public will have access to most of this property for compatible recreational uses.”
“Awards from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund enable our partners to secure matching dollars from other funding sources,” said Brian van Eerden, director of The Nature Conservancy’s Virginia Southern Rivers Program. “The Nature Conservancy is pleased to see how Enviva’s investments are unlocking new capital and fostering public interest in conserving wetland forests. If sustained, these contributions will help achieve valuable floodplain protection for wildlife in southeast Virginia and northeast North Carolina.”
Local, state and national conservation organizations submitted applications for funding to protect environmentally sensitive forests in 35 counties in the Virginia-North Carolina coastal plain, an area that is home to four wood pellet production facilities and a deepwater marine terminal owned by Enviva.
The fund is focused on bottomland forest ecosystems identified through consultation with academic and environmental organizations.
“Although the vast majority of Enviva’s wood comes from areas other than bottomland forests, Enviva will work with the Endowment to catalog and protect these four sensitive habitats and to document the company and its suppliers do not cause them harm,” according to the fund’s website.
Also, a science-based review team recommends measures to define and protect sensitive areas, which Enviva says it will incorporate into its wood supply practices.
The Enviva wood pellet domes at the Port of Wilmington became operational in December 2016.
The Enviva terminal includes two storage domes that can hold up to 45,000 metric tons of wood pellets each. Port officials estimated to ship more than 1 million tons of pellets a year with a more than $16 million annual economic impact.
The Wilmington port can receive wood pellets by truck or rail, with the rail link able to handle about half the total volume.