Is it more sustainable to source firewood and wood fuel locally?
by Taylor Gathercole
February 03, 2020
When it comes to thinking about sustainability and fuel, most of us consider 'local' to be the most sustainable option out there. You would be right if they met all the correct standards.
There is nothing more enjoyable and mesmerising than sitting by the fire, whether that's inside or outside. For warmth, community or food, it's a comforting experience that we all appreciate.
Sustainability has been in the headlines continuously for the past 12 months, and rightly so. This has led to increased awareness of our individual actions, and many of us are looking to businesses to make it easier for us to live sustainably. There is a clear desire to adopt sustainable behaviours, so brands (like us) need to consider how they deliver it—Accessibility, convenience, affordability and ease of repeated use. Brands can make it easier for consumers to regenerate our behaviours, and make them habits.
The world of forestry, timber, wood fuels, it's all a minefield. One where there is a lot of misunderstandings and misleading information, from suppliers and others. This blog post is here to help you understand whether or not it is best for you to source locally or to consider your option with another provider such as us.
Below is a list of points that you should consider when choosing your supplier and this information to widely available from them, without asking. Should it not be displayed, ask them.
- They source their wood from within a specific radius, though there isn't a national standard for what is a good distance. We have a mileage cap of 80-miles from our production site. The wood should be from England, and ideally locally sourced
- The woodlands are managed responsibly, using sustainable practices. For example: coppicing. These woodlands are best to be ASNW or SSSI. Not from a plantation
- They do not import wood
- All wood is sourced from sustainably managed woodlands using best practices. For examples, coppicing - Ideally from thinnings
- They either use 100% renewable energy, purchase green energy or do everything by hand
- They air-dry their wood for a minimum of 18 months
- OR able to dry their fuel using captured waste heat (like we do)
- They have a strict quality policy in place to ensure their wood is consistently below 20% moisture content
- Aim to/Have a zero plastic policy
- They can provide all previous and current felling licences
For a local option to be a better option they would need to either follow the same operations as we do or do everything by hand. This would mean they're using 100% renewable energy, sustainably sourced wood, air-dried (minimum 2 years), hand-split or electric-motor machinery.
The most crucial area we must improve on is distribution, while our operations do offset this, we are working with our couriers to improve further — This is where local suppliers are better, due to fewer road miles.
Wood is immediately recognised as sustainable by virtue of it being a renewable resource. It grows naturally, and modern forestry standards harvest wood in a sustainable way to preserve the environment of the forest. While burning wood emits just as much carbon as it took in when it was a tree, and it is a part of the current carbon cycle, in most cases, the processing of firewood emits excess carbon rendering it no longer carbon neutral. This is exactly why we are working hard to create a carbon-neutral or better, carbon negative (capturing more carbon than we emit), process to authentically and transparently promise you a renewable product which is truly carbon neutral.
In our eyes, it is not enough to just sell a 'carbon-neutral' product, and it certainly doesn't mitigate the fact that many business practices are simply not up to standard.
So while buying locally sounds like the better option, you can't always guarantee it unless they can provide the necessary information.