Wood burners and Wood Management

The birch tree massacre!

Here is a picture of Uncle Mike about to do battle with a birch tree.  He is The Man from Salford’s brother, he is also ‘A Man from Salford’, in addition to this he is a tree surgeon.  Now please, don’t start throwing green custard at me for this dastardly act.  This birch was much loved, its branches were just right for hanging bird feeders on. We could waste many happy hours viewing birds from the warmth of the kitchen seated next to the Rayburn.  Sadly it had planted itself in the wrong place and was beginning to interfere with gutters and the phone line, our only real connection with civilisation.   It was also shadowing the only part of the brambly slope that might one day be level enough to lend itself to some vegetable cultivation.  It will, of course, be replaced, hopefully with trees of a more controllable size and hopefully something fruitful.  (That might save a few Eygptian strawberries!)

Looking at this picture made me think about  the post of Willow cosily curled up in front of the wood burner.  Are wood burners sustainable?  I think the honest answer is potentially so, but not necessarily so.  It depends first of all on what you are going to burn and secondly where you got it from.  Trees are carbon stores and so burning wood will result in carbon emissions, there is no escaping that. Of course replacing trees at a greater rate than they are lost will soak up emissions.  People are often surprised to learn that the burning of rain forest is the highest contributor in the world to carbon release, more so than the entire travel sector.  However, the subject of sustainable forest management probably requires several dedicated posts in itself. 

 our woodstore

For your wood burner try to use waste wood wherever you can, you’d be surprised how much of it is around.  We are lucky in that quite a lot of decent wood floats its way towards us along the canal. Make sure the wood can’t serve another useful life before you chop it up for fire wood.  Tree surgeons can be a useful source of wood though be prepared to split it yourself.  If you are buying wood (and indeed any wood product or wood derived product) make sure it is from a sustainable source.  The best guide is to look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo on products.  If you are not sure where to go B&Q now sell FSC logs. I think some interesting greening stuff is going on at this store now, see their website for a fuller explanation of their One Planet Living commitment.

A log burner is the most efficient way to burn wood, far more so than open fire where much heat is lost.  Make sure that you shut the burner down once you’ve got your fire going, slow burning will radiate just as much heat as a roaring fire!  Make sure your wood is well seasoned, to burn most efficiently fire wood should only retain 20% moisture.  This will also reduce residues building up in the chimney, a potential fire risk.  Store wood for at least a year before burning, cover the top of the pile to prevent excessive rain penetration, but make sure it is exposed to air around the sides.  If you have a log pile waiting to be split, drill holes in the ends of some logs to provide homes for overwintering insects.  They will be your garden friends when spring arrives and you are no longer spending so much time in front of the fire. 

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