South Yorkshire woodland workers benefit from Austrian know-how
A select group of seven woodland mangers and forestry contractors from around South Yorkshire returned home recently from a training week held in the depths of the forests in Austria.
Aimed at encouraging sustainable management of neglected woodlands, the project and training looked at how woodfuels can be used in reducing CO2 emissions for heating homes. Emissions from fossil fuels for heating account of around 40% of all CO2 emissions – more than emissions from transport.
The training event was funded though an EU grant, as part of South Yorkshire Forest Partnership’s 3 year - Activating Forest Owners project (AFO) and included delegates from France and Slovenia who have similar problems with under managed woodlands as the UK.
The fortunate UK delegates where hosted by Austria’s BE2020 the Centre of Competence and Excellence in Wieselburg central Austria. Delegates were introduced to local farmers who have successfully turned their hand to working as heat entrepreneurs as well as milking cows, supplying and running local woodfuelled boilers that heat homes, schools, churches, and leisure centres.
The group took part in a series of workshops as well as visiting wide range of woodfuel installations from an 80kW in a Kindergarten at Rogatsboden to large 7.5MW plant heating the small town of Gresten in Lower Austria.
The group learnt how local forestry contractors tackled the management and harvesting timber from steep hillsides which is a similar problem in many woodlands found in the wooded valleys and ravines of South Yorkshire. Our region has around 15,000 hectares of woodland; almost half of this is not effectively managed.
The AFO project is helping to find some of the 8,000 tonnes of woodfuel needed each year, to keep the region’s growing number of biomass boilers running. South Yorkshire is one of the leading regions in the UK with woodfuel installation heating more than 1500 homes The number of operating biomass boilers is expected to increase to over 40 in the next 2 years.
For further information contact Robin Ridley, Wood-energy Co-ordinator 0114 2571199