Woodfuel

It's not new! Wood has been used as a source of fuel since humans first harnessed fire. Currently enjoying something of a resurgence, replacing fossil fuels for heat and electricity, cutting greenhouse gases along the way. Planting trees for future woodfuel is the now thing to do, having a sustainably managed wood is an asset to any property. Choosing what to plant is much discussed! Broadleaves produce more heat energy per kilogram than conifers, although conifers will get to a harvestable age first. I talk about which species in a mo.  The technology in log, chip and pellet boilers has come on immensely in the last 10 years and who knows how much it will have advanced by the time trees planted now are harvested.

Which ones to plant? Most wood will burn but the ones I list here burn better and have more calorific value than the others. Birch is good and will be among the first to be ready. Beech. Wild Cherry. Hawthorn. Hazel. Hornbeam. Both species of Oak. Rowan. Sycamore. Blackthorn.  I have left Ash off the list because nurseries are not allowed to grow and sell it since the Chalara (ash dieback) problem struck the UK.

Drying wood. We have a very strange habit in this country of not drying firewood properly. Europeans must laugh at our miserable piles of damp wood 'drying' against a wall compared to their wonderful wood piles around their houses - plenty of it, and properly dry.  Once cut down(preferably in the winter, when the sap is down) it should be stacked in 2m ish lengths. Stacked off the ground and covered with a waterproof cover on the top (not the sides) to allow the wind to blow through it while keeping the rain off. Our house is mostly wood powered, a Woodwarm stove heats a 350 litre water tank. We use 16" long logs. Firewood processors cut wood to length, split the wide ones and collect them for stacking. We have several people in our village who have processors, contracting themselves out to woodland owners who need wood processing. Many people process wood in the first winter so that they are stacking smaller pieces of wood which have a bigger surface area for the volume, which dries quicker. Stacked logs should be covered to keep the rain off but allow the wind to blow through. I store  cut wood for two years