Biomass sourced from UK woodlands represents a vital opportunity to improve woodland management and create new jobs in the forestry sector. Currently a significant proportion of UK woodlands are unmanaged, which has contributed to a long term decline in biodiversity. Estover is promoting a number of sustainable woodland management techniques, as part of its work in developing local-scale Combined Heat & Power (CHP) plants that make use of local wood fuel.
- When a tree is cut down, it produces a range of useful products, from high quality timber for construction, furniture and fencing, to lower grade wood with few local markets. Estover will fuel its plants from this low grade wood - such as the branches – which would otherwise have little or no use.
- A reliable and competitive market for the low grade wood helps support regular management, which contributes to a healthier and more productive woodland.
- Effective and traditional management of woodlands has significant ecological benefits, reversing a long term decline in biodiversity within UK woodlands, and can encourage rare species such as dormice, nightjars, and woodland butterflies.
- Though carbon is emitted producing energy in this way, by using low grade wood for fuel that would otherwise have been left to decay on the forest floor there is no net increase in carbon emissions .
- By using wood as a substitute for fossil fuels which have higher embedded carbon, significant emissions are avoided. Each Estover CHP plant saves around 30,000 tonnes of CO2 per year compared to the fossil fuel equivalent. This is comparable to the annual CO2 emissions of about 4,000 people.