Have ever thought of planting trees to grow as firewood or other wood fuel? You may or may not have come across Eucalyptus, a tree mostly native to Australia. At D-Plant we our promoting this species as one of the best choices if you plan on growing your own crops for wood fuel. Usually you will find that most of the trees grown in Ireland for wood fuel are the likes of alders and poplars which take between 15 and 20 years before harvest and ash which can take between 25 and 50 years before its ready. A typical forest usually Sitka spruce also takes 25 to 30 years to grow. For this the be viable you’d probably want to start planting before you finish secondary school…
The main reason we promote Eucalyptus for wood fuel is because you could have a crop in as little as 8 to 12 years and will coppice 2 times after harvest which means out of one planting you will have 3 crops. So if you were to plant enough trees so that you only burned 1/8 of your crop per year then by the time you had consumed the first crop the first 8th you harvested should be fully coppiced and ready to harvest again.
The cost of growing wood fuel
As regards to the cost of planting, the trees themselves start around €2 each and reduce drastically in price as you go up in numbers. This works out between 500-600 euros per acre for plants plus planting and maintenance. This investment provides a bare minimum of 50 tonne weight of seasoned firewood. This works out at about €12 euro a tonne excluding establishment costs. Compare this to a large ‘bulk bag’ of retailed firewood which weighs less than a tonne and will cost you an average of €170 per bag. When you put it like that there is really no excuse as to why you would go with anything else.
Apart from the cost and time that goes into your firewood, another thing you want to think about is how efficient the wood is to burn. A preconceived idea towards wood burning is that if it grows that fast then it must be useless as a firewood. This however is not the case. When you are talking about how well a timber burns the main factor that contributes to this is the wood density. Eucalyptus works out at about 75% as dense as Ash, the most favoured timber for firewood.
So hopefully now that you have some of the facts you can see just how worthwhile a project like this could be. If you’re looking for ways to cut down on spending or become more self-sufficient, Eucalyptus trees are definitely an option to be considered.