The Woodland Trust is starting the New Year with an offer of funding to help landowners in Northern Ireland experience the many benefits of woodland.
With over four decades of expertise in woodland creation, the charity cites compelling reasons for landowners to plant trees, including their ability to provide shelter and shade for livestock, while helping to reduce localised flooding.
And now, hundreds of people are avoiding the cost of traditional fuel supplies by growing their own firewood. With careful management, home-grown firewood can be available within eight to 12 years of planting, with annual sustainable supplies thereafter. Around two to three hectares of new native woodland will produce enough fuel to heat a typical three-bedroom house.
Gregor Fulton, operations manager with the Woodland Trust, said: “The increasing focus on energy – where it comes from and the cost – means that planning your future needs now is certainly advisable. If you’re lucky enough to own a piece of land, depending on what tree species are planted, you could be coppicing your own firewood within a decade.
“We can check that the land is suitable for planting, and offer advice on the woodland design and choice of species. Birch, for example, grows quickly but the wood also burns faster than other species.
“Trees, of course, bring other benefits too, from enhancing the look of unused land to providing much-needed homes for wildlife. And the benefits start from the actual day of planting, with insects starting to colonise and attracting creatures higher up the food chain.”
The Trust’s MOREwoods scheme is aimed at landowners currently ineligible for government funding and wishing to plant a minimum of 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres). Individuals must be prepared to contribute up to 50 per cent of the cost of the scheme. Applications must be received by 5 February 2016, with tree planting taking place before the end of April.
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