The BC RRA Process
Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) are a part of SBP’s approach for identifying and mitigating risks associated with sustainably sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet and wood chip production. An RRA evaluates an entire geographic region to determine the risks associated with sourcing biomass feedstock from that region. The process that must be followed is set out in SBP’s RRA Procedure Version 1.1. The certification system is intended to provide assurance that woody biomass is made from legal and sustainable sources.
The scope of the BC RRA Process is fibre sourced from uncertified forested land-bases found in the province of British Columbia. Once the BC RRA is approved by SBP, the need for individual Biomass Producers to conduct risk assessments is avoided and there is consistency between Biomass Producers in the same region. Note, all wood sourced from certified operations is excluded from the scope of the BC RRA.
Sustainable Biomass Program
The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) is a non-profit international standards organization that has developed a certification system for woody biomass, which is mostly used in the form of wood pellets and woodchips, as fuel for industrial, large-scale energy production. The certification system is intended to provide assurance that woody biomass is made from legal and sustainable sources.
Biomass must be compliant with the SBP Standard to enter certain markets - many European utilities only take SBP biomass. Feedstock certified at the forest level through standards such as those promulgated by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) or by the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) (standards by organizations such as Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA)) is considered SBP-compliant; this represents a significant portion of the public and private forest land in British Columbia.
The Organizational Structure of the Project
The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) initiated a RRA for the province of British Columba in 2018 and hired Hopkin Forest Management Ltd. to coordinate the Working Body (WB) formed of a team of natural resource and certification professionals. The WB facilitated the risk assessment to ensure that relevant knowledge of forestry, laws and policies of British Columbia were accurately captured in the RRA. Important information included interviews with experts and the experience and knowledge of consultants, applicable legislation, reports from Provincial authorities and other stakeholders, various databases and statistical data sources. Information was obtained from Provincial authorities, such as the BC Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, Wildlife and Parks, the Canadian Forest Service of Natural Resources Canada, the BC Ministry of the Environment and Environment Canada.
The WB obtained, synthesized and analyzed relevant information for each indicator, and then internally reviewed the draft assessments. The resulting draft is now being made available for review and comment. Once the stakeholder consultation review period is concluded, the WB will finalize the report based on the comments received and submit the draft to SBP for its review. Once SBP is satisfied that it complies with its requirements, SBP will accept the RRA report.
The Risk Assessment
The BC RRA assesses each indicator following the requirements of SBP Framework Standard 1: Feedstock Compliance Standard for the province of BC as a whole. Where there is a high probability that an indicator is being met in BC, it is assessed as “low risk”. Where there is a reasonable likelihood that an indicator is not being met, or there is insufficient information available to assess the risk, then the indicator is assessed as “specified risk” – precautionary approach. A Biomass Producer that has the potential of sourcing biomass where one or more indicators have been identified as “specified risk” must undertake mitigation measures to reduce the risk of non-conformance to acceptable levels.
The Public Consultation
Stakeholder consultation is a crucial part of the RRA process. From the start, the Working Body reached out to individuals and organizations to identify sources of information, highlight facts and experiences to write well-documented and logical findings to determine the risks level associated with the standard's indicators.
The RRA Procedures requires a 30-day stakeholder consultation of the draft BC RRA. Following this period, the RRA will be finalized and submitted for approval by SBP.
April 20, 2020 until May 22, 2020