MORE than 100 people attended a day of talks, walks, presentations and site visits to encourage wood fuel production in the New Forest National Park.
The Harvesting Energy conference was attended by local woodland owners, businesses, foresters and those with an interest in wood fuel production and biomass boilers.
The morning of talks and presentations started with an introduction on forests and woodlands by New Forest National Park Authority’s chief executive Alison Barnes. Experts in the areas of wood fuel production and biomass boilers explained to delegates the opportunities and practicalities of wood as a renewable energy source; how coppicing for wood fuel can create thriving woodlands; and how the New Forest Marque can connect the wood fuel supply chain.
Organiser Georgie Watson from the New Forest Land Advice Service said: “Wood fuel will become increasingly popular in the future as fossil fuel prices rise. Developing a productive wood fuel market in the New Forest is a practical option as managed woods will be able to provide a sustainable, local and carbon neutral energy source, which will benefit local communities, habitats and wildlife.”
John Pemberton, member of the New Forest National Park Authority and owner of Ipley Manor, was a guest speaker. In 2007, he installed a biomass boiler on his estate.
He explained the process of installing a biomass boiler and how successful it was at heating five homes on his estate: “The biomass boiler has reduced our energy bills and is half the cost of traditional oil heating. We would even get this benefit if we were buying wood chip but we are fortunate to be able to use the wood from our estate, benefitting the woodlands and encouraging wildlife.”
In the afternoon, delegates split into two groups to visit biomass boilers at Ipley Manor and the Hinton Estate. They received practical demonstrations on how the boilers worked and about the benefits of using wood fuel as a heating source.