As I’ve mentioned earlier I have plans to start work this year on managing the small amount (I’d guess at around half and acre) of woodland that I have. As all our heating depends on either the sun (solar thermal water panels) or our stove (multi-fuel burner with boiler) the need for a dependable source of fuel is a constant one especially in the grey winter months (in fact it becomes a bit of an obsession). At this stage, management of fuel consists of four threads:
1. Buying in / bringing in fuel.
I’ve been buying in various types of fuel – mainly modern eco-log type products made of reconstituted chippings, saw dust and the like. I’ve found some of these very effective, but would rather not have to go to the trouble of sourcing them or the cost of buying them. I’ve also been lucky enough to have a source of ready felled timber from a relative that just needs cutting, bringing onto site and spliting. The need to transport the wood brings a certain overhead, but such a free resource can’t be sniffed at.
|From Barn Conversion 2010|
2. Planting new trees.
A two fold exercise, in planting I’ll remove established trees to open up areas of the woodland canopy. Firstly, this provides wood from the cleared trees for burning probably next year. Currently this is mostly ash and so should be burnable green (i.e. immediately) – I’ll try that out, but I’m not sure that is the most efficient use of the wood. Secondly, the replanting provides a future source of wood. Cutting down trees leads us to…
3. Coppice existing trees.
Where I’m removing existing ash trees, I leave the roots and stump in the ground and a don’t plant close by, thus hopefully leaving the opportunity for the coppiced tree to grow back and provide wood over and over again.
4. Establishing a bio-mass fuel source.
By this I mean planting a fast growing combustible resource – in my case willow. I’m currently in the process of ordering some willow trees from a local supplier so more on this shortly.