Our Forests Aren’t Fuel


By: Clint Owens

In late 2016 Dogwood Alliance, an Asheville, North Carolina-based environmental nonprofit, launched the Our Forests Aren’t Fuel Campaign in Athens, Georgia.  This campaign seeks to prevent the destruction of Southern forests as a result of the industrial scale biomass industry and wood pellet production.

According to Allie Halbert, the Athens organizer for Our Forests Aren’t Fuel, three wood pellet facilities have been proposed in Madison, Jackson and Franklin counties.

Halbert said that in addition to damaging the local ecosystem, wood pellet manufacturing generates an airborne dust that can be linked to asthma, increases in heart attacks and strokes in the communities near these facilities.

According to Emily Zucchino, Community Network Manager for the Asheville office of Dogwood Alliance, many Southern communities are concerned about the impacts of industrial logging on Southern forests and want to move forward toward forest protection.

“Overall, what we’ve seen, from the science on this issue, from the community groups that we work with, is that the industrial scale biomass industry is bad for our forests, it’s bad for the climate and it’s bad for out communities,” Zucchino said.

Zucchino said that in addition to the health concerns of wood pellet manufacturing, these facilities can present numerous other challenges for Southern communities.

“The concerns that the people in these communities have, in addition to the health concerns, are often things like economics,” Zucchino said.

Installation of wood pellet manufacturing plants can impact the value of local real estate, potential tourism value and, according to Zucchino, exacerbate poor living conditions that are already present due to other industrial manufacturing.


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