CLA Buckinghamshire Branch Chairman Alexander Boswell on the growing local market
PUBLISHED: 16:32 04 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:32 04 November 2014
Many people in our two counties have already embraced renewable energy systems such as biomass heating, solar power, and ground source heat pumps. As a result they are reducing their bills while boosting the local economy and also protecting the environment.
However, some have found there can be hurdles to overcome before the benefits of greener energy can be accessed and enjoyed. The CLA is working with central government and local authorities to reduce red tape for renewable energy generation, as well as campaigning for better grid connections in rural areas and for a simplified planning process for small anaerobic digestion systems.
Woodfuel (biomass) heating systems often present a good opportunity to switch to renewable energy, and the growing local market for wood as a fuel source is helping improve the management of woodlands across the region. Well-managed woodlands are not only productive in economic terms, they also yield a valuable supply of woodfuel and bring important environmental benefits to the local area. There are few forms of forest as ecologically rich as coppiced woodland.
There is a fairly common misconception that forests and woodlands will happily look after themselves. In fact, a healthy wood should be managed actively, with choices made about which dead wood to leave for invertebrates, selective thinning to create space and light, planting new trees, coppicing, dealing with pests or diseases, and maintaining woodland tracks.
Undertaking this type of work helps to keep trees healthy; the woodland becomes more diverse with a better habitat for flora and fauna. The multiple growth stages within coppiced woodland increases its resilience to pests and diseases. With around 17,500 hectares of woodland in Buckinghamshire alone, the potential environmental benefits for the county of improving woodland management are considerable. The Forestry Commission provides guidance on good woodland management practices, and you can visit www.cla.org.uk to find out more about the CLA forestry and woodland management policy.
The developments in the woodfuel industry are exciting, and allow businesses and homeowners to use our oldest form of energy in a modern, efficient way. We are now seeing the rejuvenation of this industry which will help deliver sustainable energy sources, and healthy woodlands, for generations to come.