Woodlands help keep schools and homes warm

Forge Valley pupils visiting Greno Woods this week
Forge Valley pupils visiting Greno Woods this week

The Wildlife Trust for Sheffield and Rotherham is working with local fuel supply company Silvapower to help keep local homes and schools heated this winter.

In 2011 Silvapower produced 10,000 tonnes of woodchip biofuel for 25 specially designed boilers in the region. 1,200 tonnes were sourced from Greno Woods and all of it will be used within 20 miles of where it was grown.

The timber is dried on site, at local farms or at Silvapower’s own depot and is delivered by a local hauliers. Even the chipper operator was born and bred locally. Keeping the mileage as low as possible helps keep carbon emissions for the process very low.

“Through our commitment to buying and selling as locally as possible, we like to think that we are ‘clean, green and carbon lean,” said Silvapower’s Jason Gallagher.

One local school which is enjoying the benefit of locally-sourced fuel is Forge Valley Community School in Sheffield.

“The biofuel concept is one that we are really keen on, particularly after we planted 3,000 trees in the school grounds, some of which will eventually be used in the biomass burner,” said Lee Jowett, the Sustainable Schools Co-ordinator at Forge Valley. “We are also happy that by doing so we can help to support the local economy.”

The school’s environment club is run by pupils and they visited Greno Woods this week to view the process which results in their warm classrooms; to see the trees being felled, extracted from site, stacked and left to dry.

They were also able to see where the felling and thinning works last year had already had a positive impact on the woodland habitat.

New and diverse undergrowth has already started to appear where the thinner overhead canopy has enabled more sunlight to reach the ground.

Thinning and felling works have begun again this year in a different section of the woods where some clear-felling will be used to produce woodchips for fuel, and an income for the Wildlife Trust for Sheffield and Rotherham to support their sustainable management of the site.