Saturday, 29 October 2011

Winter Fires and Christmas Trees!

As the clocks go back, the evenings get longer and colder and my thoughts and toes turn gratefully to our wood-burning stove and to the wood pile at our door. The Forestry Commission has a woodfuel plan, designed to increase the number of people using wood as a major source of fuel over the next 5 years. Woodfuel (logs, chips and pellets) is a sustainable, easily replaced, low carbon source of energy that can be used to generate both heat and electricity and it could become an increasingly important part of the UK's renewable energy supply. Woodfuel supplies can be operated best on a local basis and the Forestry Commission is working to develop the supply chain on a sub-national scale, co-operating with regional contractors and businesses (again, saving further energy by reducing transportation.) There is something very satisfying about creating the winter's wood supply, stacking and drying the logs in good time for the cold weather and knowing that it has all been locally grown and the trees felled have each been replaced.

There has been some (in my opinion) nutty discussion of the need to avoid real Christmas trees for the sake of the environment. In fact, real trees take five times less energy to produce than artifical ones and ten times fewer basic materials (many of the plastics used in artificial trees require the release of carbon in their production.) Real trees can be used to make compost after you have finished with them (or burned as fuel). The Forestry Commission gives a guarantee that all its trees and all trees grown on sites that it inspects are sustainably grown; for every tree felled, one is planted. And what could be better than the smell of sap from a Norway Spruce - the traditional Christmas tree? A Nordmann fir or a Lodgepole pine is also good, but my personal favourite is the Douglas fir with its bluey tinge and robust needles that do not drop.  

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