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Wood pellet company sets up $5 million fund to conserve forests

Wood pellet company sets up $5 million fund to conserve forests
by Jeff Hampton – The Virginian-Pilot

Wood pellet maker Enviva has announced the company is setting up a $5 million fund to conserve thousands of acres of North Carolina and Virginia lowland forests where black bears thrive and scarce juniper trees grow.

The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund will award matching grants to nonprofits seeking to set aside woodlands in 35 counties over the next 10 years, said company spokesman Kent Jenkins Jr.

“We have a goal, and we have the resources to accomplish that goal,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to ensure that no wood from these areas makes its way into a plant.”

Enviva employs 600 people in six production plants in places including Ahoskie, Northampton County, N.C., and Franklin, Va. It has port facilities in Chesapeake and Wilmington, N.C.

Wood pellets are made from the leftovers of logging operations, Jenkins said. Small and diseased trees, limbs and tree tops rejected by sawmills are ground into sawdust, dried and compressed into pencil-thick pellets, according to a description on the Enviva website.

The company ships 2.2 million metric tons of wood pellets each year primarily to the U.K., where coal-fired power plants have been converted to meet mandates of reducing carbon emissions.

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