One regular piece of feedback we get from guests is how much they enjoy the tiny Penguin woodburners that we have in each hut. This is the sole source of heat in the huts but it is quite amazing how hot these cute but mighty stoves can burn. Key to this is the firewood that we supply which is sourced from our own woodlands a few miles away from Ffynnon Beuno. I bought the woodlands 12 years ago to realise a dream to own my very own wood and have spent many hours there on the lifetime project of restoring the woods to a fully working coppice. Coppice woodland was at one time a very common sight in the UK. It involved managing a woodland in such a way that there is continuous tree cover at all times. The tree species used in a coppice woodland have very specific attributes – mainly that once the tree is cut down, the stump then sends up multiple shoots from the base when in turn can be cut when grown to a suitable size – thus providing an endless and sustainable supply of wood. Traditionally, all woodland was managed this way and provided both work and timber for items as diverse as fencing to tool handles. The growth cycle is about 7 years so the entire woodland is broken down into 7 numbered sections which are cut (“coppiced”) and then left to regrow for 7 years as the work moves onto the next section. Coppice woodland supports a huge variety of wildlife as different species that favour age specific woodland can be supported all in one place – for example dormice and butterflies enjoy the “young sections” with bats and deer living in more closed areas.
We not only produce all our own firewood this way, we also produce charcoal with the thinner pieces and hedgerow cuttings (which will be covered in a separate blog later) so this all adds to how we reduce our carbon footprint at Ffynnon Beuno.
Sustainable sourcing of timber is desirable (do you know that often netted bags of wood can come from woods in Eastern Europe?) but also how the timber is then turned into seasoned firewood is important. Burning damp, unsuitable wood can cause a dangerous and flammable build up of tar inside the chimney leading to frightening consequences. Our timber is left down on the forest floor for a year so that all live sap dissipates. It is then brought to Ffynnon Beuno and split then stacked in a ventilated woodstore. We net bag it in small quantities for sale from our gate as well as bringing a ready supply to keep our guests cosy so the woods can pay for itself.