Editorial Cartoon: Migratory Route of the Southern Wood Pellet

MigratoryPathofWoodPelletsCartoon 650

European hunger for wood pellets to fuel its energy needs leads directly to the Southern US

Since 2012, the Southern United States has been the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets for electricity. This rapidly expanding industry is having a dramatic impact on the bottomland hardwood and swamp forests of the mid-Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Flawed European policies meant to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change have large utilities rapidly shifting from coal to wood at the expense of wildlife habitat and the impacts are being deeply felt by vital bird populations.

Loss of mature hardwood forests is having a significant impact on bird populations that depend on these forests for breeding and survival. Many species hurt by this growing industry are already the focus of conservation initiatives to protect their declining numbers. Bottomland hardwood forests are vital for absorbing carbon, protecting against coastal flooding, providing clean drinking water for local communities and are home to at least 30 species of birds that are the focus on conservation efforts.

Birds that are at risk include the Wood Stork, Swallow-tailed Kite, Northern Parula, Cerulean Warbler, Wood Thrush, and many more. Clearcutting these valuable bottomland forests for the production of wood pellets destroys important breeding areas that are critical to the survival of these species.

For a high resolution version of the cartoon, click here.

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