There have been mixed reports on the environmental benefits or otherwise of wood burning. However, many of the negative stories really relate to its inefficient and unsustainable use in developing countries. In the UK and Europe, it is not difficult to ensure wood comes sustainable sources, where new trees are planted to replace those felled at a rate calculated to ensure the forest or plantation is maintained. Many managed woods have yielded firewood and lumber for generations and today still look healthy and productive.
The other side to sustainable wood burning takes place in the home: it is irresponsible to burn wood and waste most of the heat. Open fireplaces do this, and stoves were developed as a solution. For example, masonry stoves similar to the ones we sell today originated in Sweden around the 17th and 18th Centuries because the woodlands of Scandinavia were being depleted. Thanks to the huge leap forward in efficiency of the masonry stove, the Swedes stayed warm and enjoy vast swathes of gorgeous forest to this day.
The other environmental question surrounding wood burning is the CO2 released into the atmosphere by the combustion process. CO2 is perhaps the most important of the man-made greenhouse gasses responsible for global warming, but it is also naturally occurring in the atmosphere. Many people do not know that trees which are allowed to fall and rot in the ground also release their carbon into the atmosphere as CO2. Whether it rots or burns, sustainability principles require that a replacement tree be allowed to grow and this process will take CO2 back out of the atmosphere.
If wood is burned in a modern, efficient stove, its use can immediately reduce the consumption of one of the other heating fuels like oil, natural gas or coal. This type of displacement is important because it is one of the ways we can reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that are linked to the problem of global climate change.
More information on sustainable wood burning can be found at www.woodheat.org/index.php To help you get started down the sustainable route, we plant 5 trees for every wood burning stove or biomass boiler installed!
At Gondwana Green Heat, we passionately believe that wood burning stoves are an important part of a sustainable domestic energy mix. The warmth they produce is healthy, and the social benefit they provide doubles the efficiency effect because everyone wants to sit around the fire, rather than having the family dispersed in different rooms.
On a dark winter’s evening, the warmth of a real fire is the heart of the home. It has been for generations, and the beautiful stoves now available mean it has never been easier and more appealing to become a wood burning home.