Wood Chip Biomass

We do not advocate deforestation for large scale biomass for energy, but we think articles like this one are too simplistic in their approach to biomass. Specifically, they ignore the contribution it can make to woodland restoration and management.  Management is vital for a balanced ecology but it is costly and needs a market for the poor quality wood produced, much of which is of insufficient quality for the timber market and isn’t even deemed good enough to make fence posts. 

A healthy and thriving wood requires active management and that can include the removal of existing mature trees.  Management costs money, a lot of money.  In 2011 year we paid £250,000 to buy our 37 acre wood at Rosemary Lane.  We received a grant of £1,000 towards drawing up a management plan and about £8,000 towards creating the access which cost a total of about £12,000. We have spent at least a further £50,000 of our own money on ditch and drainage works, reintroducing the rides (paths through the wood), putting in gates at the entrance, replacing the gates at the entrance when they were stolen, thinning some areas, coppicing some of the overgrown hazel and created a couple of scrape ponds as well as carrying out other general management. Together all these essential activities have contributed to the dramatic improvement in the habitat and ecology.  By contrast, the value of the timber which was of sufficient quality to be sold to the timber market has only produced about £4,000. 

The larger scale forestry work restoring the wood using the heavier machinery has been paid for by the Springbok Co-op because they can recover the VAT that Joe Court has to charge on his fees..  The Co-op then gets this poor quality wood extracted to burn in the boilers for free.  So effectively we are selling the Co-op the poorer standing wood, including a lot very poor quality brash (tree tops), for biomass. That has covered the additional costs of the woodland restoration work as well as keeping the wood fuel costs down for the Co-op and for Care Ashore so a “win win win” situation for us, the Co-op and Care Ashore. Plus Joe gets a steady stream of local work.