All of our firewood comes from managed woodlands, some FSC but the majority from privately well managed (sometimes Forestry commission overseen woodlands.)
In the UK we have a really good system known as the felling license. If you wish to remove more than 3 cubic metres of wood from a woodland, you require a felling license which can only be obtained from the Forestry commission. To obtain the license you need to provide a management plan covering many aspects of the woodland and the future plans for the woodland and further re-stocking (planting). Without a felling license, felling of more than the permitted amount is a criminal offence. This system works very well and combined with the grant systems, encourages woodland owners and managers to follow the felling license route.
Because of the felling license system, we, along with many others don't put FSC at the top of our priorities. The FSC system is a private system funded by subscription and seems to suit timber that is purchased from abroad (not what we do); the system emerged from abroad in the first place. Our greatest check on where our timber comes from is visiting the contractors / landowners and woodlands. This is what we do to satisfy our quality. It's very easy to spot a woodland that is being managed badly and it's very easy to check the felling license.
Woodlands have the unique ability to provide; Habitat, Shelter, Landscape, Fuel, Building material, Craft material, Sport and Recreation.
Very few other natural wonders can do this, but woodlands can do all of the above if they are managed sensibly, with vision and sustainability. The wood you buy from us has taken some time to get to the stage it's at.
The all important part, either carried out by nature or by the woodland owner. The more trees we can plant the more secure will be our fuel needs and sustainability will be a realistic goal.
The second most important part, the sustainable part, without management woodlands can become dark, infertile with limited habitat value and inaccessible.
The sweaty hard part that is low paid and high cost.
If the raw material can't be moved then there will be no raw material.
The part we play to turn all of the above into a useable fuel
Natures way of turning a really good fuel into a better one.
Management costs money, time and commitment, the increase in wood fuel prices in recent years reflects this. It's not a bad thing to pay more when it is allowing more planting and management to take place, and gives a fair wage to the contractors who can invest in training and more efficient and cleaner machinery. The whole supply chain can benefit from this and the outcome is a country that can provide environmental benefits, space for leisure activities, building materials and wood fuel infinitely.
We process timber into firewood using a range of machines and then Season (dry) the wood so that its average moisture content is between 20-25%.
The timber arrives on large lorries and is stored in our yards whilst awaiting processing. We then grade, chop and split the wood into the appropriate sizes. This is then placed into cubic metre crates which are numbered, recorded and stored in our open sided barns for seasoning. Finally it spends time in our poly-tunnels to complete the seasoning process.