Wood pellets are sold as a clean alternative to coal. But is the subsidised bioenergy boom accelerating the climate crisis?
FJA Shortlist 2021
Category: Excellence in Environmental Journalism
Authors: Piret Reiljan, Ties Gijzel, Sophie Blok, Catherine Joie, Silvia Nortes, Paul Toetzke and Hazel Sheffield
(UK, Estonia, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Spain)
Money to Burn
The original publication is available via the following links: https://www.vpro.nl/argos/lees/onderwerpen/money-to-burn/interactive.html
VPRO - December 2, 2020
One grey November day, a man stands on a bald piece of land in the heart of the Haanja Nature Park, in Estonia's southern Võru County, and remembers when he could walk straight from one side of the park to the other under a canopy of trees.
Kalev Järvik has lived in the Haanja uplands for more than 10 years. His closeness to the forest has shaped his life as a carpenter and the fortunes of the surrounding villages, with their handicraft traditions – a substitute to farming on the poor arable land. Upcountry, travel literature promotes the forest to city-dwellers, promising the ancient woodland as a place to rest and reinvigorate the mind.
At the beginning of 2015, the Estonian government adjusted the park conservation act to allow clear-cutting of trees in the Haanja Nature Park as demand for wood in Western Europe soared – not just for furniture or construction, but because of an unlikely culprit: Europe's renewable energy policies.
'Carbon-neutrality is a fairy tale': how the race for renewables is burning Europe's forests