South East England is England’s most wooded region, with a substantial hardwood resource from our broadleaved woodlands. Many of these woodlands are currently under-managed and the potential to develop the wood fuel market is a great opportunity to bring these back into sustainable management for the benefit of both woodland biodiversity and climate change.
Wood and other sources of biomass have an important contribution to make to our future energy needs:
Climate change is a reality and using wood fuel will help reduce our reliance on burning fossil fuels which contributes to the process of global warming
New markets for wood fuel will help to create and maintain rural jobs as well as contribute to the sustainable management of our woodlands
The Forestry Commission in the South East worked closely with the South East England Regional Development Agency (SEEDA), the South East Rural Development Programme (RDPE) and the Biomass Energy Centre to promote the development of the woodfuel industry in the region. It is also leading an Intelligent Energy Europe project, Woodheat Solutions, which aims to the bring best practice experiences gained by the Austrian and Finnish partners to the UK, Croatia and Slovenian partners.
The South East has over 270,000 hectares of woodland, which represents approximately 25% of the woodland in England. This is made up of 13 % woodland owned by the Forestry Commission, 41% where private owners are in receipt of grants from the Forestry Commission for management or planning and 46% which has not received grants. This latter group we broadly class as ‘under-managed’ woodland.
The Forestry Commission has estimated that the potential woodfuel resource from woodland management arisings in the South East is around 500,000 tonnes per year. This could provide approximately 900 GWh of renewable heat, if used in modern, highly efficiency biomass boilers, or enough energy to heat around 45,000 homes. This estimate does not take account of other sources of woodfuel such as perennial energy crops, recycled wood, or arboricultural arisings.
The South East region consumes around 223,925 GWh of energy per annum, 18% of that is as electricity, 33% as transport fuel and 49% is as heat.
|Total Area of Woodland > 2ha||270,649 hectares||Forestry Commission|
Area of Woodland owned by the Forestry Commission
|35,668 hectares||Forestry Commission|
|Area of privately owned managed woodland||111,839 hectares||Forestry Commission|
|Area of privately owned under-managed woodland||123,142 hectares||Forestry Commission|
|Total energy consumed in the South East||223,925 GWh/yr||SEEDA|
|Electricity consumed||40,786 GWh/yr||SEEDA|
|Transport energy consumed||73,984 GWh/yr||SEEDA|
|Heat energy consumed||109,153 GWh/yr||SEEDA|
|Population||8,000,550 people||National Statistics|
|Total land area||1,909,600 hectares||National Statistics|
Download our Wood Fuel in the South East information leaflets on:
Introduction to wood fuel and policy drivers (pdf:299kb)
Wood fuel heating (pdf:545kb)
Wood fuel resources (pdf:559kb)
Case studies (pdf:868kb)
Find out more about how woodfuel has developed in Finland and Austria and how this experience can help us develop our own woodfuel industry.