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Firewood Growing Guidance Notes

Who is this guide aimed at?

  • Anyone who wants to grow some fuel logs for their own use – felling a few trees per year on a cycle OR somebody looking to grow a fuel wood crop on land not used for high intensity food production.
  • Anyone with a paddock, where they can grow a copse of trees.
  • Any land owner, small holder, farmer who can spare the odd ½ acre or more.
  • Assumptions: You have the time to manage young Eucalyptus stock for years 1-3, possess the harvesting and processing equipment (chainsaw and axe) or know a person who can
  • This guide is not aimed at somebody with an interest in trees but lives in a garden flat in Chelsea

What is a Eucalyptus Pioneer?

  • Somebody willing to join us on an adventure to further explore the potential of this fast growing hardwood crop, whilst gathering more information about Eucalyptus growing in different regions of the UK.

Why Biomass? Why Firewood as a Fuel? Why now?

  • We are running out of gas and do we really want to be dependent on a foreign power for our household heating during a cold British winter?
  • The UK is known for lots of weather, but not its continuous brilliant sunshine. Solar energy and wind power make a contribution, but will be insufficient to completely and independently fill the energy gap.
  • Climate change is happening. We need a means of reducing atmospheric carbon as quickly as possible. Tree growing facilitates active carbon sequestration.
  • It’s going to take too long for nuclear power to come on line to meet our immediate energy demands, not to mention the waste issues.
  • The state of the average British wood is parlous. Very often unloved until there is a local urgency for domestic firewood, they stand neglected. Hoping that our current woodIand stock will rise to the challenge of supplying fuel is overly optimistic. I think the photo below says it all…

Why Eucalyptus

  • Eucalyptus are fast growinghardwood trees of very high calorific value.
  • They are ‘more productive than any other timber crop currently grown commercially’ (Forestry Commission).
  • Biomass wood chips, firewood logs and sawn timber are the potential crops from this tree species.
  • They have excellent carbon sequestration, have the potential to assist with flood alleviation and are beneficial for bees and wildlife.
  • Fungicides or insecticides are not usually required to grow the crop, so are considerably more environmentally sound than many cultivated crops and healthier for the grower.
  • After year 2 of establishment, they require very little input.
  • Fast returns with harvesting opportunities at around years 5-6, 10-12 with a maximised harvest at around year 15-16, depending upon your growing conditions.
  • As a country we need to investigate and trial alternatives to the traditional Oak, Ash, Spruce, Larch, Pine and Birch; all of which are either currently suffering disease problems or will be confronted by rises in global temperatures. Climate-change-resistant Eucalyptus offer not the absolute solution to the challenge, but a way forward. Large scale mono-cropping is never a good idea with any plant species, but there is an argument for carefully developing Eucalyptus plantations alongside new plantings of mixed species woodland. It’s just important to remember these prima-donnas need their own space.
  • Where do we go from here? Well, I started writing these Guidance Notes to put on our website as a general, short ‘How to’ guide and realised after 20 pages of typing that there was a great deal of information required by the firewood grower, in order for them to be successful!

The Executive summary version is

  • 1) Plant young trees as directed.
  • 2) Harvest when trunks get to 150-200mm diameter.

  • BUT in order to achieve a worthwhile project; maximum yield and return on investment, you need more in-depth guidance; advice on choice of species, planning, managing the first two years of the crop. So we have written a short book on the subject, which covers a great deal of the research information gathered about Eucalyptus for biomass over the past few decades, but with a grower’s practical perspective. It will be released into the world later this spring.
  • OR
  • If you are ready to rise to the challenge and become a Eucalyptus Pioneer, you can stake your claim for the 2019 project here: hyperlink to Eucalyptus Pioneer Project Pack in shop sundries.