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Woodfuel and Wildlife Meeting, NT Heelis Building, Swindon, 22nd January 2009

A discussion meeting held at the National Trust Heelis buiding, Swindon on the 22nd January 2009.

This meeting was held to explore the considerable overlap of interests between conservation groups concerned with securing the future of our ancient woodlands and the wildlife traditionally found in them, with the growing need to harvest woodfuel and firewood to secure alternatives to fossil fuels. Woodfuel has a key role in replacing oil and gas for domestic and commercial heating and the Forestry Commission is aiming at a target of bringing some 2 million tonnes of additional woodfuel onto the market by 2010.

The conservation benefits of actively worked coppices and woods, notably for those species of rare plants, butterflies and moths associated with sunny clearings and glades, and which have experienced catastrophic decline in recent decades, were explored, as were the positive benefits for woodland birds resulting from the increased structural diversity generated by management for woodfuel and firewood.

The background to the policy and the practicalities of mobilising woodfuel from Englands woods and forests were also presented, by both the Forestry Commission as key players in ensuring a coordinated programme of activity across the field (from ensuring supply to encouraging demand), and by the National Trust who have accrued considerable direct experience in retro fitting important historic buildings of all origins with appropriately designed heating systems.

The presentations made on the day are available here: