Using wood as fuel advice on buying, drying and burning firewood
The story behind our local firewood
Those of us living in the southeast of England are lucky to live in one of the most beautiful and wooded parts of the British Isles. Our woodlands are rather special as the majority are Ancient Semi-Natural meaning that they existed before 1600 but in many cases date back to the time of the last Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.
There is a rich history of management and economic activity, which has always involved the felling of trees and using the wood for a variety of products. Fortunately, the native species of tree and shrub, such as ash, hornbeam and hazel, will simply re-grow if cut down and in a system known as coppicing, the cycle of felling and re-growth continues indefinitely. In fact most individual trees live far longer when coppiced than when left to grow old.
Most parts of the country lost their coppice workers decades ago, but in Kent, Surrey and Sussex we are fortunate to still have a few hundred left. Partly thanks to these workers continuing to practice coppicing, we are still able to enjoy carpets of bluebells, wood anemones and other wild flowers each spring and even sometimes the song of nightingales in the thickets of re-growth.
By choosing to heat with local wood instead of gas, oil or electricity you could make a really valuable contribution to the local rural economy and help conserve woodland wildlife.
The local environmental benefits include:
- Supporting the traditional and sustainable management of our local coppice woodlands.
- Encouraging the essential felling of coppice to ensure that both trees and wildlife are regularly regenerated and can continue as they have done for thousands of years.
- Maintaining the familiar patchwork of our ancient landscape made up of fields and woodlands in various stages of growth.
- Supporting local coppice workers whose traditional skills and knowledge we need to encourage and safeguard for the future.
The wider benefits include:
- Using a sustainable, carbon neutral fuel in place of fossil fuels
- Reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and resulting carbon footprint
- Reducing this country's need for imported energy
- Reducing our vulnerability to world price rises and fuel shortages
The financial benefits:
- Increasingly large savings to be made as gas, oil and electricity prices rise
The lifestyle benefits:
- Taking a more active part in the heating of your home
- Enjoying the pleasant heat from a wood fire
- Independence of supply and not being at the mercy of power cuts
Weald Woodkits is part of a wider programme of projects initiated by the High Weald AONB Joint Advisory Committee to promote productive landscapes whose outstanding natural beauty sustains and is in turn sustained by a vibrant local economy.