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Trees in forest

Woodfuel has a key role to play in reducing our carbon footprint

Environmental benefits

Reduce the amount of fossil fuel you use and significantly reduce your carbon emissions by installing a wood fuel heating system.

Support the sustainable management of woodland through the production of wood fuel.

Low carbon local fuel supply

Woodfuel is a carbon lean source of energy which, if sourced sustainably and used efficiently, can deliver carbon emissions reductions of over 90% compared to fossil fuels. This makes woodfuel an important element in the energy mix needed to meet Scotland's ambitious climate change targets, set out in the Climate Change Delivery Plan.

Chart showing comparative emissions from wood heating, wind, solar, natural gas and oil. Wood heating is lowest at around 40 gsm per kWh. Oil highest at around 400 gsm per kWh.

Source: GaBE Project: Comprehensive Assessment of Energy Systems; Dr Thomas Heck, Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland, March 2002

Why is woodfuel low carbon?

Trees play a crucial role in regulating our climate by taking up carbon as they grow. When wood is burned, the same amount of carbon that was absorbed over its lifespan is emitted. However, so long as new trees continue to grow in place of those used for fuel, this process is carbon lean.

As trees mature, the rate at which they absorb carbon slows. So by maintaining a constant cycle of growth and harvesting, managed forests and woodlands can play an even more vital role in climate regulation. Read the Read Report 'Combating Climate Change - a role for UK forests' for more information on this.

The creation of new markets for wood can also help stimulate new woodland planting, which will contribute towards our goals to increase the overall areas of forests in Scotland.

Woodfuel is described as carbon lean (not neutral) because some carbon is emitted during its production and transportation. However, as long as the fuel is sourced locally, these are much lower than the emissions from fossil fuels.

Stimulating forest biodiversity

Sustainably managed forests and woodlands can be both bio-diverse and productive. Improving forest biodiversity can be achieved through management, such as restructuring woodland to create open space and varying the age structure of plantations. Wood produced from such management activities - often unsuitable for traditional markets - can then be sold into the wood fuel supply chain, supporting sustainable forest management.

Regulations and guidance on woodland creation and management aim to promote biodiversity and avoid potentially negative impacts. In the UK, the UK Forestry Standard [PDF] underpins sustainable forest management and the Scottish Forest Strategy sets out the framework for diverse and strong forestry sector, in tune with the environment.

Forestry Commission Scotland's Woodfuel Demand and Usage Report 2013 estimates that 737,000 oven dry tonnes of woodfuel was used in Scotland in 2012 - saving 1,046,000 tonnes of CO2e.