Forum will highlight the benefits of using wood as fuel source

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A free event designed to help hard-pressed businesses save cash and cut their carbon footprint by using local firewood takes place later this month.

Farmers, tourism companies, hotel owners and anyone else keen to find out more about the benefits of burning wood are invited to the event in Airth Castle Hotel on August 9.

Organised by Central Scotland Woodfuel Forum (CSWF), it will explore the incentives and cutting edge technology for burning wood.

Until the 20th century, firewood was the most common source of fuel, but as oil central heating ushered in a new era of convenience, its use declined.

However, soaring prices of high carbon heating fuels and huge advances in wood burning technology have triggered a steep rise in demand for woodfuel.

Sales of wood burning stoves have rocketed and firewood merchants across the country are struggling to keep up with the explosion in demand for logs to fuel them.

According to the CSWF, biomass boilers are gaining popularity as a practical, efficient way to heat homes and businesses as people drive to cut carbon emissions and oil prices spiral.

Dan Gates of Uaine Ltd, who is chairperson of the CSWF, will be the keynote speaker at the free seminar which tuns from 6-8 p.m.

He said: “With the new and rapidly expanding market for woodfuel, and uncertainty over the future affordability of fossil fuel heating, the economic case for land managers to diversify into growing trees for firewood is getting stronger all the time.

“Support is available to help finance forestry projects and biomass boilers, and to help with the marketing of woodfuel produced on the farm.”

Mr Gates added that two to three hectares of well-managed woodland would be enough to make a medium to large farmhouse with a 25-50 kilowatt boiler entirely self sufficient in fuel.

The Scottish Rural Development Programme can help fund boilers and specialist processing equipment, as well as grants to contribute to the cost of planting new woodlands.

Keith Wishart, Forestry Commission Scotland Conservator for Central Scotland, said: “For farmers, developing their own woodfuel supply from under-managed woodlands could be beneficial. Trees can turn an unproductive area of land to a productive one.

“Developing their own woodfuel supply can be an opportunity for farmers to both save money in fuel costs and to develop a new income stream from sales of woodfuel.”

To book a place or for details of future events, contact Amanda Calvert by e-mailing acres@amandacalvert.co.uk or calling 07956622452.