A look at the importance of sustainable firewood harvesting for the health of our planet today and for future generations
Without trees, we wouldn’t be able to breathe in clean air, heat our homes with firewood, or admire the beauty of forests. Trees not only provide us with a renewable heating resource, but they also improve our air quality, house wildlife, and make up a large part of the natural landscape that we adore. We rely on trees and healthy forests to absorb and store CO2, so the greenhouse effect can be stabilized and we can continue breathing in fresh air. Without sustainable forestry, we wouldn’t have many healthy forests left to provide us with all the benefits of having trees around.
Firewood is an energy-efficient and renewable heating source when harvested responsibly. Firewood emits less CO2 in the atmosphere compared to burning fossil fuels, and when sustainable forestry practices are used, there are still plenty of trees left to absorb CO2. Whether you choose to purchase firewood from firewood producers, or you use your own firewood bundler and processor, keep in mind these sustainable firewood management and practices to maintain healthy forests for current and future generations.
Well-planned tree selection is important when harvesting firewood. Sustainable firewood management and practices include the following selective planning:
- Selective harvesting of uneven-aged trees;
- Removing poor-quality trees;
- Thinning out dense areas of trees;
- Leaving all seed trees; and,
- Leaving some dead trees for wildlife habitats.
Often, farmers and woodlot owners will clear cut their woodlots for a short-term profit. Woodlots are depleted by over-harvesting or high grading—harvesting the best-quality trees and leaving the poor-quality trees. But there are responsible woodlot owners who practice sustainable firewood harvesting. Specialized training is needed to properly select trees for harvest. Either woodlot owners will have this training or they will hire professional foresters to select and mark the trees for harvesting.
Sustainable firewood management will ensure that woodlots are healthy and productive for a long time—with possible annual yields of a half cord of wood per acre for eternity. For those who use energy-efficient wood stoves for heating and have energy-efficient homes, you can also rely on less firewood annually. When choosing your firewood from a responsible woodlot, or using your own firewood bundler and processor, and following sustainable practices, you can reduce your ecological footprint. Combining these green practices will certainly benefit your wallet and your environment, while leaving the trees, air, and Earth in good condition for future generations.