What is woodfuel?
The woodfuel we use at Bedgebury comes from the one hundred hectares of Sweet Chestnut coppice in the Forest.
The wood from this coppice is cut when fifteen years old and stacked for twelve months to dry.
The timber is then converted into woodchip and stored in a barn ready for use. The woodchip must be below 33% moisture content.
Why did we choose to use woodchip?
The Forestry Commission is committed to the use of renewable resources. Excluding gas, this was also the cheapest option (approximately 30% cheaper than purchasing fuel oil). As a traditional resource, tried and tested equipment is readily available
Woodchip and carbon dioxide emissions
While wood burning systems differ from other renewable energy sources in that carbon dioxide is emitted when the fuel is burned to produce heat, the amount of carbon dioxide released is only the same as the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by the tree whilst it was growing.
Using woodchip as a fuel is therefore a carbon neutral approach. However, the fuel can only be described as renewable energy if it has come from a sustainable source (i.e. it is processed and replenished). It should also be used close to where it was originally grown to reduce secondary carbon dioxide emissions incurred through transportation.
Coppicing is the cutting of shoots or branches off a tree leaving a stool (stump) which then re-grows. This provides a fast (up to two meters re-growth in the first year) self-renewing source of wood, allowing an infinite number of crop stems to be taken.
Coppicing and the environment
Coppicing is a renewable and sustainable resource and has many other ecological benefits; stimulating regeneration, structural and biological diversity.
Many woodland plants benefit from the alternating periods of light and dark, which ensures that they are not overwhelmed by more competitive species.