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Forest Conservation Projects Granted Funding

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The preservation and conservation projects in North Carolina and Virginia which have been chosen to receive funding from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund have been announced. The $5 million Fund is a ten year programme that seeks to protect bottomland forests in the area. The projects eligible for grants were chosen based on a number of different factors including its links to other conservation projects and its ecological quality.

John Keppler, Chairman and CEO of Enviva said: “We are very pleased to be working with our friends at The Nature Conservancy, Triangle Land Conservancy and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, who will join with the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund to preserve thousands of acres of high conservation value forestland.

“Enviva has always believed there are special places in the forest that should remain so. This year’s inaugural grants from the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund enable leading environmental organisations to protect those special places through forest stewardship, conservation, preservation and the promotion of sustainable harvesting.”

The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund, established by Enviva Holdings, LP and administered by the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, is awarding $500,000 in 2016 to preservation and conservation programmes that span more than 2,000 acres of environmentally sensitive bottomland and wetland forests in North Carolina and Virginia. The 2016 Enviva Forest Conservation Fund matching-fund grant recipients are:

– The Nature Conservancy North Carolina Chapter, to assist with acquisition of 1,294 acres of forested wetland in the floodplain of the Roanoke River, Washington County, North Carolina. The property will be protected as part of The Nature Conservancy’s Roanoke River Preserve and includes extensive stands of cypress-tupelo and Atlantic white cedar forests;

– The Triangle Land Conservancy, to help finance purchase of a permanent conservation easement on 127 acres of bottomland hardwood forest, uplands, and lake area near Raleigh, North Carolina. The lake and wetlands on the property help filter water flowing into the Neuse River, the drinking water source for the Town of Clayton and Johnston County;

– The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, to assist with acquisition of 385 acres of hardwood bottomland, cypress-tupelo swamps and 2.6 miles of frontage along the State Scenic Nottoway River in Southampton County, Virginia. Conserving this land will provide water quality enhancement and flood storage capacity, and support a myriad of threatened and endangered flora and fauna; and

– The Nature Conservancy Virginia Chapter, to finance a conservation easement donation of a 408-acre floodplain tract along the Meherrin River, Southampton County, Virginia. This project blends working forest uses with limited harvest designations to maintain health and condition of floodplain forest communities.

Michael Lipford, Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy Virginia Chapter, said: “The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund’s grant will help ensure Virginia’s forests continue to harbour wildlife, support recreation and forestry, and clean the air we breathe and the water we drink.

“The Nature Conservancy is pleased by Enviva’s commitment to conserve sensitive areas that help maintain the health, condition and sustainability of floodplain forests in southeast Virginia.”

The grant recipients were selected from a pool of high-quality applications submitted by local, state and national conservation organisations committed to protecting forests and environmentally sensitive areas in the Virginia-North Carolina coastal plain, an area that is home to three wood pellet production facilities and a deep-water marine terminal owned by Enviva.

Applications were evaluated by the Endowment based on a number of factors, including the ecological quality of the property, potential threats to the property’s integrity, its associated conservation values and links to other conservation areas.

The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund focuses on about 35 North Carolina and Virginia counties that include approximately 6 million acres of forests of all types. Of this total, about 20 percent are bottomland forests – low-lying, marshy areas near rivers and streams that are home to tree species such as cypress, gum and oak. Most of this is working forestland where harvest is recommended. Although less than 15 percent of Enviva’s wood supply in the region comes from bottomland forests, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund targets sensitive bottomland areas because they offer a wide range of environmental and economic benefits. Many of them also face the threat of conversion to other uses.

Carlton N. Owen, president and CEO of the Endowment said: “The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund aims to be a catalyst that will attract other conservation investments to the region, particularly to the bottomlands of the Albemarle Sound drainage basin along the Roanoke, Chowan, Meherrin, Nottoway and Blackwater rivers.

“We received applications from best-in- class conservation organisations and are excited about the environmental and economic benefits our first round of grants will provide for communities throughout North Carolina and Virginia.”

Along with the 2016 grants, the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is sponsoring two additional initiatives that protect the region’s forests and environmentally sensitive areas:

– In consultation with leading academic and environmental organisations, the Endowment has identified four specific bottomland forest ecosystems that will be priority conservation targets – cypress-tupelo swamps, Atlantic white cedar stands, pocosins and Carolina bays. Enviva does not take wood from these sensitive areas and is working with its suppliers and landowners to preserve them.

– The Endowment has empanelled a multi-stakeholder panel to develop enhanced, science-based forestry practices for working bottomland forests, building on the generations-old tradition of sustainable forestry there. This “blue-ribbon committee” is developing specific measures to protect these areas, which Enviva intends to incorporate in its supply practices.

Mr Keppler added: “The Enviva Forest Conservation Fund is an important pillar in Enviva’s commitment to sustainability, but it is just one part of our company’s mission to improve the environmental conditions in the communities we serve.

“We maintain forest sustainability certifications at every level of our production process. We are developing a proprietary ‘track and trace’ system that will enable us to identify the source of every truckload of wood we use. And our overarching goal is to displace coal with a fuel that can reduce lifetime greenhouse gas emissions. Enviva works every day to ensure sustainable use and protection of our resources.”

For more information on the Enviva Forest Conservation Fund visit the website.

Economy

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Better for the Environment?

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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Zapp2Photo | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/zapp2photo

Technologists, engineers, lawmakers, and the general public have been excitedly debating about the merits of self-driving cars for the past several years, as companies like Waymo and Uber race to get the first fully autonomous vehicles on the market. Largely, the concerns have been about safety and ethics; is a self-driving car really capable of eliminating the human errors responsible for the majority of vehicular accidents? And if so, who’s responsible for programming life-or-death decisions, and who’s held liable in the event of an accident?

But while these questions continue being debated, protecting people on an individual level, it’s worth posing a different question: how will self-driving cars impact the environment?

The Big Picture

The Department of Energy attempted to answer this question in clear terms, using scientific research and existing data sets to project the short-term and long-term environmental impact that self-driving vehicles could have. Its findings? The emergence of self-driving vehicles could essentially go either way; it could reduce energy consumption in transportation by as much as 90 percent, or increase it by more than 200 percent.

That’s a margin of error so wide it might as well be a total guess, but there are too many unknown variables to form a solid conclusion. There are many ways autonomous vehicles could influence our energy consumption and environmental impact, and they could go well or poorly, depending on how they’re adopted.

Driver Reduction?

One of the big selling points of autonomous vehicles is their capacity to reduce the total number of vehicles—and human drivers—on the road. If you’re able to carpool to work in a self-driving vehicle, or rely on autonomous public transportation, you’ll spend far less time, money, and energy on your own car. The convenience and efficiency of autonomous vehicles would therefore reduce the total miles driven, and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

There’s a flip side to this argument, however. If autonomous vehicles are far more convenient and less expensive than previous means of travel, it could be an incentive for people to travel more frequently, or drive to more destinations they’d otherwise avoid. In this case, the total miles driven could actually increase with the rise of self-driving cars.

As an added consideration, the increase or decrease in drivers on the road could result in more or fewer vehicle collisions, respectively—especially in the early days of autonomous vehicle adoption, when so many human drivers are still on the road. Car accident injury cases, therefore, would become far more complicated, and the roads could be temporarily less safe.

Deadheading

Deadheading is a term used in trucking and ridesharing to refer to miles driven with an empty load. Assume for a moment that there’s a fleet of self-driving vehicles available to pick people up and carry them to their destinations. It’s a convenient service, but by necessity, these vehicles will spend at least some of their time driving without passengers, whether it’s spent waiting to pick someone up or en route to their location. The increase in miles from deadheading could nullify the potential benefits of people driving fewer total miles, or add to the damage done by their increased mileage.

Make and Model of Car

Much will also depend on the types of cars equipped to be self-driving. For example, Waymo recently launched a wave of self-driving hybrid minivans, capable of getting far better mileage than a gas-only vehicle. If the majority of self-driving cars are electric or hybrids, the environmental impact will be much lower than if they’re converted from existing vehicles. Good emissions ratings are also important here.

On the other hand, the increased demand for autonomous vehicles could put more pressure on factory production, and make older cars obsolete. In that case, the gas mileage savings could be counteracted by the increased environmental impact of factory production.

The Bottom Line

Right now, there are too many unanswered questions to make a confident determination whether self-driving vehicles will help or harm the environment. Will we start driving more, or less? How will they handle dead time? What kind of models are going to be on the road?

Engineers and the general public are in complete control of how this develops in the near future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see all the safety benefits of having autonomous vehicles on the road, but without any of the extra environmental impact to deal with.

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Environment

Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family

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Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace -- https://www.shutterstock.com/g/maschatace

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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