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Community Biomass Guide - Introduction

There are many ways in which community groups can get involved in developing a local woodfuel supply chain.  These pages will guide you through the stages of the supply chain, helping you understand the time, resources, skills and costs involved.

Wood Chip Boiler - Wyre Community Discovery CentreThe woodfuel sector is growing in response to positive policy and financial support for the use of wood-fuelled heating systems and bringing woodlands back into sustainable management.


Sustainable woodfuel supply chains offer a wide range of social, economic and environmental opportunities and benefits including:

  • supporting the local economy
  • improving access to woodland for leisure
  • bringing together local communities
  • creating new skills and jobs
  • enabling carbon savings
  • promoting increased woodland biodiversity
  • supporting climate change mitigation through woodland management.

Woodfuel illustration
Image: The woodfuel cycle.

To get you started, you will be introduced to wood as a fuel and the administrative and practical requirements woodfuel can place on community groups depending on how your woodfuel is being produced and supplied.

Engaging with local stakeholders and your community at every stage of your community heating project will be vital to its success. The engagement section explains who you should be engaging with, about what and when in relation to your woodfuel supply.

To help you decide how involved you want to be in your woodfuel supply, ‘how to set up your supply chain’ explains what is involved in each of the supply chain stages:

    • managing woodland sustainably


    • processing wood for woodfuel


  • getting woodfuel to a heat project

If you decide that time and resources mean that, for now at least, you want to buy sustainably produced woodfuel from a local supplier this guidance will outline how to do so effectively.

You’ll find case studies to inspire you and links to further information provided throughout the following pages and summaries of the critical issues you need to think about in order to build a supply chain appropriate for your community group and biomass heat project.

Things to think about

  • Who in your community can help and what skills and time can they offer? The production of woodfuel is a skilled and time consuming process. Identify what time and skills the members of your group have to dedicate to producing/sourcing your woodfuel before committing to a particular woodfuel supply solution
  • What fuel is your heating system likely to run on? Logs can be produced locally at small scales; woodchips require specialist machines; wood pellets are made (in most cases) in factories.
  • How much woodland do you need to meet your heat demand? 1-1.5 hectares of managed woodland is required to heat an average household.
  • How are you going to finance your project? There are a variety of grants available for initial group set up and project feasibility work, and share offers or loans for larger project implementation costs. 

This guidance has been produced in response to the Department for Energy & Climate Change’s (DECC) Community Energy Strategy.  Content has been prepared by Lantern (UK) Ltd on behalf of the Forestry Commission and DECC.

Last updated: 13th September 2016
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This web section is provided in partnership with DECC.