Dorset charcoal is not only the sound environmental option but is also a far higher-grade fuel. With carbon contents as high as 90% compared to only 60% in many imported varieties, charcoal produced from British hardwoods is unsurpassed in it’s burning characteristics.
Why burning British charcoal makes sense
The devastating forest fires in Indonesia in 1997 should provide a stark reminder to consumers in the UK that there is a direct link between the rush by developing countries to exploit their wood resources, and the demand placed on them by western consumers for the resulting timber products - of which charcoal is one.
Over 90% of all charcoal consumed in this country comes from overseas, predominantly the endangered tropical rainforest and mangrove habitats of South America, West Africa and South East Asia. In addition to the damage caused by unsustainable forestry practices in these regions, is the negative environmental impact arising from the consumption of fossil fuels transporting charcoal so far around the world.
It is an unfortunate fact that the people producing charcoal in developing countries are not only destroying their local ecology but are also receiving very poor payment for doing so. With a commodity such as charcoal, the greatest proportion of profit goes to the importers in this country, with much of the money that does go to the country of production remaining in the hands of a few large businessmen. Whilst we continue to import charcoal that is not produced in a “Fair Trade” manner, i.e. cheap labor and poor conditions, we effectively condone such practices.
There is a truly superior alternative: British Charcoal!
The Dorset Charcoal Company is producing sustainable local British charcoal; thereby ensuring the good management of local woodlands by finding a use for lower value wood, such as thinning or misshapen waste, and encouraging the restoration of derelict coppice.
The latter is extremely beneficial to local wildlife whose ecosystems rely on the cyclical nature of coppice growth. Many butterflies and flowers require the sunlight that is associated with freshly cut coppice, whereas growth from the stools provides and ideal habitat after a couple of years for thrushes, finches, warblers and nightingales. However, after fifteen years or so a coppice becomes overgrown and dark leading to a decline in wildlife, requiring the process to start once again.
Dorset charcoal is not only the sound environmental option but is also a far higher-grade fuel. With carbon contents as high as 90% compared to only 60% in many imported varieties, charcoal produced from British hardwoods is unsurpassed in it’s burning characteristics:
Easy lighting (dispensing the need for lighter fuel and firelighters)
Reaches cooking temperature quickly (approximately 15 mins)
Burns cleanly (no unpleasant fumes or smoke from half burnt wood)
Leaves only ash (uniformity of burn)
The Cycle of Atmospheric CO2
Trees use the sun’s energy to take CO2 from the air and turn it into wood. We then convert the wood into fuel as logs and charcoal. When this fuel is burnt the CO2 originally absorbed by the tree is released again into the atmosphere. A little extra CO2 is made from processing the wood and transporting it.
Is Burning Charcoal and Firewood bad for the environment? Well, trees turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into carbon (wood) which we can burn to create energy, a truly renewable resource so long as:
• The wood comes from a sustainable source.
• It is burned in a clean, efficient way.
• It is used close to where it was felled.
As it burns wood produces carbon dioxide - one of the main greenhouse gases responsible for climate change. But this CO2 will be absorbed by a new tree planted to replace the one being burnt.
Carbon dioxide emissions from woodfuel systems are 95% lower than gas, oil, LPG or electric systems in most cases. This is because the carbon dioxide that is released from burning wood was the same amount that was absorbed from the atmosphere during the growth of the trees. The only new carbon dioxide released is from the fossil fuel used during its processing and transport, which is why woodfuel works best at a
local scale and can be referred to as “carbon lean.
Why Promote Dorset Charcoal & Firewood?
Using wood as a fuel has a number of benefits. Firstly, contrary to what many people think burning wood and charcoal can be environmentally beneficial. Much of the woodland in the UK is semi-natural woodland and benefits from being managed. Many small woodlands are under-managed, so cutting firewood and producing charcoal from them can help rekindle traditional woodland management to the benefit of both the trees, the wildlife and the owners. Continued neglect is not an option for these woodlands.
Bringing coppice woodlands back into rotations encourages a greater diversity of flora and fauna. Cutting wood opens up woodlands for flowers, insects, birds and small mammals letting in light. Dorsets woodlands are seldom ‘natural’ but have developed thanks to a long history of management by man. New woodfuel markets will secure the future of our historic wooded landscapes.
In addition producing charcoal and using wood as a fuel also benefits the rural economy by providing local employment, and an opportunity for diversification for farmers and other landowners to find value in low grade wood. Also local deliveries eliminate the necessity for long-haul transportation and the production and supply of local charcoal has been shown to reduce fossil fuel consumption by over 85%, compared with imports from South America or South Africa. Moreover, providing the wood comes from a sustainable source, as ours does, wood is a source of renewable stored solar energy.