When I wrote the title ‘How Green is Your Wood?’ I originally meant to talk about how crucial the moisture content of logs is to getting efficient heat from them…but then I began thinking about the other meaning of the phrase and pondering what is going to happen to our woodlands and ancient trees in the future as more and more woodstoves replace fossil fuel heating systems? As obtaining properly dry timber to burn becomes more and more difficult, will our tree planting and conservation be able to keep up with demand?
The UK is one of the least forested countries in Europe, so it was good to see in today’s news that in Scotland, during 2011/12, over 5700 hectares of broadleaf woodland have been planted, plus 3300 ha of conifers. These figures are said to be a big improvement over those of previous years but in fact, there is a very long way to go yet before we can be sure that our woodlands and their ecosystems will be large and diverse enough to withstand the pressures of the future. As discussed in a previous post on here, we would have to plant at least 5 new trees for every one felled just to maintain the timber supply, but the lost habitat and biodiversity from felling hardwoods can take many decades to regenerate.
It’s not just the felling of trees for firewood that causes concern. More and more, people are ‘cleaning up’ wooded areas, gathering fallen branches and logs to take home and burn. If this continues on a large scale, we soon lose much valuable habitat for our invertebrates, which in their turn support vital food species for other insects, birds and mammals.
This is one of the main reasons why the Wood Fuel Cooperative decided to focus on sourcing wood pellets and wood briquettes, rather than on supplying firewood logs, and to try and buy the wood fuel as locally as possible, from the most eco-friendly sources we could find. This mission is ever ongoing and we believe that using forest thinnings, recycled timber and local suppliers, we can help to protect our wonderful woodland legacy whilst ensuring a clean and affrodable long term fuel supply for our members and customers.