Drax is still using wood produced from some of the world’s most precious forests, according to the BBC.

The tv programme Panorama has followed up its report in 2022 which revealed the company had obtained logging licences in the Canadian province of British Columbia to take logs from relatively undisturbed forests to make pellets and fuel its Selby power station.

After the BBC investigation, Drax said it had not taken wood from primary forests but it would not apply for further logging licences in the province.

However, the company still takes whole logs from forests that have been cut down by timber companies.


Panorama has obtained documents from British Columbia's Ministry of Forests that reveals the company took more than 40,000 tonnes of wood from so-called "old-growth" forests in 2023.

Old-growth is some of the oldest forest which the provincial government says provides "unique habitats, structures and ecological functions".

The BBC further reports that in the first nine months of 2023 Drax took wood from 30 different timber marks in British Columbia where more than 25% of the forest had been designated as old growth.

How logs are marked and registered meant Panorama could track logs to Drax’s pellet mills, the BBC has reported.

In total, Drax sourced about 55,000 cubic metres of whole logs - more than 1,100 large truck loads - from timber marks containing old-growth forest.

Drax has responded to the BBC’s latest findings, saying it has taken wood from old growth forests but 77 per cent of the material for its Canadian wood pellets came from sawdust and sawmill residues. The rest is from forestry residues and low grade logs.

A Drax spokesperson said: “We are confident our biomass is sustainable and legally harvested and meets the requirements of our 2019 sourcing policy.     

“In October 2023, Drax made the decision to stop sourcing wood fibre directly from harvest sites which overlap with Old Growth Deferral Areas, in response to policy changes introduced by the Government of British Columbia. Work to implement this decision through the supply chain is ongoing.

“As a direct consequence of our decision, deliveries to Drax from the fourth harvest area originally cited by the BBC were stopped.   

The spokesperson continued: “The BBC has also stated that since our October 2023 decision, Drax took material from 12 harvest sites that include or ‘overlap’ with Old Growth Priority Deferral Areas’.

“This statement is misleading because Drax’s policy is to no longer directly source wood fibre from within these harvest sites where there is overlap with Old Growth Deferral Areas. To suggest otherwise would be a misrepresentation of our operations. 

“Fibre that Drax has sourced from publicly owned forests in British Columbia has been designated as being available to harvest legally and sustainably by the Government of British Columbia, alongside First Nations.

“We do not own forests or sawmills and are not responsible for the licensing and harvesting of forests. Drax sources its biomass from sawmill residues, harvesting residues, and fibre which has little other use or market value. We also use low-grade roundwood that is not suitable for sawmilling or cannot access higher-value markets.”