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  • Drax mills still getting material from old growth

    The British company Drax is generating electricity for Britons by burning BCs old-growth forests.



    A recently logged priority deferral area that Drax received logs from in 2023 (Photo: Conservation North)


    Prince George and Smithers, B.C. – Amidst claims to the contrary, Drax sourced logs from old growth forests in BC in 2024. In a recent radio interview, Drax representative Joe Aquino claimed that Drax stopped sourcing logs from old growth forests in 2023. However, findings by UK and BC-based environmental groups found that this is not the case. 

     “We were surprised to hear a Drax representative claim that they did not procure old growth logs after 2023. An in-depth analysis shows that this company continued to source logs from old growth as recently as January 2024,” explains Len Vanderstar of the Bulkley Valley Stewardship Coalition. 

     Biofuelwatch UK, Conservation North, and the Bulkley Valley Stewardship Coalition analyzed government data tracking the origin of logs and what mills they ended up in to determine whether or not raw material from old forests in BC, were ending up in the Drax power plant in the UK or being shipped to Japan for electricity generation.

     The groups’ findings, released last week, showed that throughout 2023, Drax obtained logs and chipped wood from Priority Deferral Areas, which were designated as the rarest old growth forests in the province. Drax continued to procure old growth forest wood for their B.C. mills in January of 2024. 



    An approximately 200-year-old tree in Drax’s Houston mill log deck (Photo: Bulkley Valley Stewardship Coalition)


     In 2021, the government of B.C. convened a technical committee to identify and map old growth forest types, including the rarest old growth forest types that are at high and near-term risk of irreversible biodiversity loss if they are logged. Many of these Priority Deferral Areas continue to be logged throughout the province by forest licensees.

     “Drax received 103 loads of logs from companies logging old growth forest in January 2024 that were trucked to their Burns Lake and Houston mills. Thirty-nine of those loads came from blocks that overlapped with Priority Deferral Areas,” states Michelle Connolly of Conservation North. A provincial government data leak last week revealed that the B.C. government was in the process of ‘deleting’ some of these old growth areas identified by the technical committee and allowing business-as-usual logging in them. 

     “We are appalled about the continued logging of priority old growth deferral areas and the fact that the B.C. government has been manipulating the mapping to free up timber, states Len Vanderstar. “What is also upsetting is the fact that these forests are a significant component in carbon capture and should not be used  to generate electricity in the name of climate change mitigation..” 

     In 2020, Conservation North documented the issuing of primary forest logging licenses by the B.C. government to pellet companies. In 2022 BBC Panorama and CBC Fifth Estate investigations revealed that Drax was logging old Growth forest and other primary forest in B.C.

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