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The Most Sustainably Managed Woodlot in North America

| 1/28/2011 11:10:50 AM

In my on-going quest for blog-o-sphere world domination I decided to ratchet up the hyperbole of my titles and make such over the top claims that people would just have to read my blog. A sustainably managed woodlot? Really, who can resist a title like that?

I know everyone can’t heat with wood, but I can and I love it. It’s carbon neutral. Those beautiful trees are absorbing carbon and storing it in their woody matter as they grow, and will return it to the atmosphere from where it came. They will either die, and fall over and release it while they decompose or in my case release it when I burn it. The tree will release the same amount of heat and carbon while burning in my woodstove, as it would rotting on the forest floor. I just speed up the process.

If you live in an urban area and you heat with natural gas, you take carbon that’s been stored in the ground and you burn it and release that carbon as C02 into the atmosphere. A better option for urbanites would be a ground source heat pump or geothermal heating system.

The trick with firewood from a carbon footprint standpoint is how you get it. If you use a chainsaw it’s a two-stroke engine where you mix gas and oil and is far worse in terms of pollution than a 4-stroke engine. So I now cut as much wood as I can with my electric chainsaw. I cut it into two to four fire log lengths in the bush and then haul it to the house or to where I can get to it with the truck in the spring.

The other option would be to use an industrial harvester, which would have a massive carbon footprint to operate and would really trash the forest as it was harvesting the wood. Some people use horses to haul wood out of the bush, but horses need a pretty wide and straight swath so that their tack doesn’t get tied up in trees, so you’d have to cut live trees to make the path for them.

Wood Harvester  

Lydia McDonald
1/13/2012 1:49:35 AM

Great post. I live on 33 acres and am working on heating my home with wood. It's been a long process since obtaining the property two years ago, involving cleaning the basement chimney, finding a good used chainsaw, finding a good (free!) wood stove (that is of course far more efficient than the fireplace I already have), building a hearth and installing a chimney for it, and now here I am in the final stages, having moved it on top of the hearth and figuring out the pipe I have is just a little too long. I, too, have beavers, and we''ve gotten along fine until the past few months when they've started taking down all of the flowering trees in my yard, as well as most of a gorgeous Japanese maple before I fenced it in. ARGH! I also don't want to hurt them and hear that trapping them live is quite difficult. But they have been taking down a lot of ash trees just the past few weeks, and those are infested with emerald ash borer. So yes, they're doing the dangerous work of felling the tree and all I have to do is saw it up and split it. I do love the zen focus required for the simple act of splitting wood, and love any excuse for physical labor that I can create. It's a lot more useful than burning calories on a treadmill.

2/15/2011 3:00:38 PM

I will have to disagree with your reasoning to not use equine power to extract firewood. Based on my own experience, a single horse twitching firewood requires no more of a path than the size shown in your article. Of course there are always other considerations to each persons situation, I just don't believe that one to be valid. Stay warm- J.W.

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