There is a buzz in certain circles. The buzz of chainsaws and the buzz of woodland management.

What is it? Why is it so important? Why doesn’t it happen? And don’t the woodlands manage themselves?

Blackbark is a new group established with the intent to promote woodland management in Calderdale. We take our name from an old Yorkshire word to describe strong straight trees selected to grow on for future timber. We are looking for landowners who want to manage their woodland. We can help with management plans, and the practical work of carrying them out.

We hope to create a living for ourselves from this work, and boost the wood economy, as a sustainable alternative to the fossil fuel economy that is currently devastating our world and changing our climate.

Please contact us if you can help us out, we need access to the woods of Calderdale to bring about our vision.

keith@wilson.greenisp.org – 07733 784795 – 07826 585661

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4 Responses to There is a buzz in certain circles. The buzz of chainsaws and the buzz of woodland management.

  1. Hi Blackbark

    Just wondering what you make of Calderdale’s Energy Future proposal that there are potentially available biomass resources for combined heat and power and also for just power generation, of 930,041MWe between 2005-2020;1,361,337MWe between 2021-35 and 1,791,734MWe between 2036-2050? (These figures are from Table 7 in VantagePoint Modelling Scenario Report PATHWAY 40% REDUCTION TARGET SCENARIO FOR CALDERDALE METROPOLITAN DISTRICT COUNCIL – it’s on the Calderdale MBC website). It seems like a lot of biomass to me and I just wondered if you knew anything about these figures and where the biomass might be coming from.

    Sorry I missed the volunteering, I came down with a stinking cold.

    Jenny

  2. blackbarkers says:

    Hi Jenny,
    What a good question! I tried to find that report on the Council’s website but failed. Could you send us a link?
    Those numbers do sound very big, but if they are for each entire 15 year period, they get smaller, emerging at around 110,000 MWe per year for the period 2036-2050. I presume that must be the case, because they are just too big otherwise. I don’t know much about conversion rates. We work in cubic metres and cubic feet of wood. We tend to avoid top-down strategies and plans because it gets in the way of actually doing things. Whatever the region-wide numbers are, woods need to be managed well and coppice rotation started, so that’s what we’re doing.
    As to where the biomass migh be coming from – this is the key, really. There is enough biomass on the ground, it is a question of whether it can or should be harvested. I would say that the majority of Calderdale’s wood exists in small, steep, inaccessible cloughs and woodlands. This biomass will simply never be available to any kind of industrial scale power generation. And of the other woodlands, many are not accessible because landowners do not want them managed. Which doesn’t leave much. If the available biomass in the few accessible woodlands is to increase dramatically as the decades go by, coppice rotations in all the right places are essential. I also imagine that there was no allowance for timber which becomes things other than fuel, which will inevitably become a resurgent market as plastics and imported timber become more expensive.
    This issue also touches on the questions of who has access to wood as fuel. I for one would much rather see local communities having some degree of control over the use of their local woodfuel rather than it all entering an industrial and capitalist power-generation stream which breaks the link between local resources and the community. Even if it is less efficient to maintain that link. We’re currently working on a community firewood project (even more localised and linked than Firebox) in Todmorden which, I hope, will become a reproducible model in the future.

  3. Hi again
    Thanks for all that info. The link to most of the Calderdale’s Energy Futures docs is http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/council/councillors/councilmeetings/agendas-detail.jsp?meeting=18599 . Look under Item Six – there are 4 docs there that you can download. The other Calderdale’s Energy Future doc is the Mini Stern report which I think crunches the numbers for the cost/benefit analysis of the strategy. That’s somewhere else online – I have the link somewhere, but not immediately to hand. I’ll send it when I find it, if you like.

    Just curious about the arithmetic behind your calculation of a falling annual requirement for biomass? Arithmetic’s not my strong point and it’s an academic question anyway, because I don’t understand what the unit of measurement means. But I divided the 2021-2034 figure of 1,361,337MWe by 14 and got 97,238MWe/ year.

    I did the same sum with the 2035-2050 figure of 1,791,734MWe, and got 127,981MWe / year, which is a bigger yearly requirement than for the previous 14 year period.

    Also, the initial 2005-2020 figure seems very big on a yearly basis, because that amount surely has to be calculated over the period 2013-2020 – they can’t start the proposed biomass energy generation before 2013 at the earliest, so there are only 7 years of biomass consumption in that period. So the sum is 930,041MWe divided by 7 =132,863MWe/year, if my arithmetic’s right.

    It’s all a bit baffling. I’ve contacted the 3 Calderdale Councillors in my ward and asked for clarification about various aspects of the strategy, including the biomass issue, but none of them has so far been willing or able to explain anything. So I’m none the wiser. I’ve posted some criticism of all this on the Calderdale’s Energy Future page on my Energy Royd website. This doesn’t seem to have gone down very well either. Ho hum.

    So, if you do have a read of the Calderdale’s Energy Future docs, I’d be interested in what you make of the biomass strategy. I know most people aren’t bothered, but it seems to me that it’s quite important, and you guys know about this subject.

  4. Just to say that after I did all those daft sums (in previous comment), I realised I’d probably been looking at the wrong table in the Scenario Report. Duh.

    I think Table 8 is the probably the relevant table – it shows estimated output in MWe of the proposed large scale commercial biomass plants. (Not the available potential biomass resource, which is Table 7, but what they actually think they’ll use/generate.)

    I’ve no idea what volume of wood is needed to generate the MWe outputs in Table 8, so I’ve emailed Emma Appleton at Calderdale MBC to ask for this info.

    I’m off to look for a Sherlock Holmes costume now – perhaps starting with a violin.

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