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Nov 13

Planting Trees for Sustainable Fuel Growth

Planting Trees for sustainable Fuel growth

 

The twin challenges of the modern world are dealing with the fallout from the financial crisis and continuing climate change.  Both of

Plant a tree

Plant a Tree

these are not unrelated, unsustainable business practices are behind both.  A willingness to disregard future problems for immediate gratification.

One sustainable way to save money, reduce pollution and provide a natural habitat is to plant your own trees for fire wood. It is actually quicker process than one imagines.  If you plant trees from a variety of species, you’ll be able to start cutting firewood from 3-4 years in. Harvesting planted trees for fuel is not about killing the tree at the time of maximum wood gain, but at looking after it and cutting it every 3-4 years. It is about regular harvesting of the trees, good maintenance of the woodland, using it as a ongoing resource.

This ongoing harvesting of trees is called Coppicing, and is a traditional practice for sustained woodland management. Traditionally timber was a very valuable and consistently used resource. People need to ensure that they had a steady supply. They noted, in antiquity, that a tree that was cut close to the ground, sent out new shoots, called suckers, that were fast growing branches. These made ideal poles for fences, but they also rapidly grew to 4-5 inches wide, which was ideal for burning in a stove.

The key is the species that you use.  If you have, for example, half an acre of land, it is best to divide it in to 4 segments, the first ¼ to plant with Willow Trees, these can be regular Willows or a mix of regular and fast growing hybrids such as Dasyclados “Super Willow” which can grow 9 feet in one year, and can be coppiced after 3. I would also plant Ash, which, will taking 10 years to coppice, provides excellent burning wood and can be cut every 5 years, after that.  Ash, when managed and fed, and coppiced cleanly will produce more and more wood each year. It thrives on coppicing.

Other species that should be considered are poplars, this fast growing tree can provide abundant timber and aggressively shoots out new shoots, after cutting. One concern with it is, that it is a wet timber and needs to dry for at least one year.   Another wonderful tree to consider using is fast growing Eucalyptus’s species. The Eucalyptus, used to the dry, poor soil of Australia, thrives in damper climates, and is capable of growing 21 feet in 6 year which is an incredible achievement. This  timber, even though fast growing, is exceptionally durable and very good firing.

I have a half acre of timber planted and continue to get an abundant supply of firewood. It also provides more benefit to me than just that. I also know that I am engaging in a carbon neutral exercise, and my woodland has become a rich plant and wildlife habitat.  I also keep 5 bee hives in it, which provide me with approximately 3-400 pounds of honey each year, most of which I sell.

So planting trees is a transformative act, it saves money, generates income, saves the environment and creates a living habitat for wildlife and a place that is a real pleasure to sit and enjoy on a Summer’s evening.  Plant a Tree Today!