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Communities urged to join forces on firewood

17th March 2010

Joining forces to source and process local firewood has the potential to boost rural communities and cut fuel poverty.

With oil prices erratic and on an upward curve, the case for making the most of fuel from forests in and around many Scottish communities has never been stronger. Sales of wood burning stoves are at record levels. By working together to supply their own homes and businesses, people have the prospect to boost the local economy and create stronger, revitalised communities.

A free event exploring the process of setting up and running a successful community wood fuel enterprise is being held in the Cairngorms National Park on Saturday 1 May. The pioneering community of Laggan, which was one of the first places in Scotland to take over the running of its local woods, is the venue for the dynamic day.

The Community Woodlands Association (CWA) is running the event for Clim-ATIC, an EU funded project to help rural communities in northern Europe adapt to the impacts of climate change. Clim-ATIC is working jointly the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) on a number of projects in the Park. The CNPA is working with Forestry Commission Scotland and other partners on development of a new wood fuel action plan designed to boost use of logs and chips sourced from both private sector and public forests in the Park.

Laggan Forest Trust is keen to set up a woodfuel enterprise itself, and event leader Jake Willis of the CWA will draw on this, and other examples, to illustrate how the so-called ‘social enterprises’ can be established. Practical information on applying for funding and acquiring suitable equipment for processing firewood – mainly split logs – will be central to the day. The economic, business management and technical considerations that should be taken into account, will also be covered. Jake Willis said: “There are really exciting opportunities for communities and community woodland groups to get involved in wood fuel but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.

“This event will provide a solid foundation, giving people the vital basics they need to get started, opportunities to share ideas and experiences and hopefully enthusing participants to take the idea further.”

Places are free but limited so early booking is recommended – visit the website to find out more and book your place or phone 07960 178961.

The website has been set up to help householders and businesses discover more about wood fuel, events in the Park and local suppliers of systems and logs, chips and pellets. More events will be held throughout the year – keep an eye on the site for details.