Friday, 30 May 2014

What are the top twenty questions for forestry & landscapes?

The Top twenty Questions for Forestry & Landscapes (known as the T20Q survey) has already attracted over 500 questions from respondents around the world.

The T20Q survey is seeking the input of anyone who has an interest in forestry, forest products & ecosystem services to suggest priority questions for research and policy that really do need attention, whether locally, regionally or on the world stage.

The questions can be submitted through an online survey that is now available in French, Spanish and English.

The Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) are co-ordinating this global project to encourage conversations about some of the biggest problems facing the world today.

CIFOR aims to draw effectively on the knowledge, expertise and insights of the global community of researchers, practitioners and those with a love of forests will help broaden conversations and focus attention on the wide community of forestry.

Responses to the survey can be anonymous, but basic descriptive information provided by respondents will allow priorities to be reported at global, regional and national levels, and for particular communities of interest. So T20Q will also inform many levels and arenas of decision making.

The T20Q website can be found here.  Follow the discussion on Twitter @Forestry_Q and via the hashtag #t20q.”

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Woodland improvement grant scheme extended – apply now!

The Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant (WIG) has been extended and is open for applications – but only until the end of September this year. If you have any roads schemes in mind get your applications in as soon as possible.

The Woodfuel WIG funds access projects which will enable the sustainable extraction of timber from woodland where it is currently inaccessible.

It can also pay for professional support measuring and marketing timber from under-managed compartments.

The current grant covers up to 60% of the cost of work and can be used to fund development on every type of forest road, from quad bike tracks to haul roads for 44 tonne timber wagons, and everything in between. 

Funded work could include the installation of new roads, loading bays or entrance gates, or repairs to faults along access routes, such as damaged bridges and drainage repair.

The timescale for the application process is as follows:

  • End of September 2014 – All grant applications must be submitted
  • End of December 2014 – Contracts must be signed
  • End of September 2015 – All work must be completed and claimed for

Previous grants handed out include £9,600 to improve access roads to a woodland area; £7,500 for the construction of long haul extraction tracks, loading bays and bridge repairs; and £50,000 for the creation of access tracks to a previously unmanageable area of land.

Click here to read about these and other grants awarded by the Woodfuel WIG scheme.

A series of videos have also been produced to help potential applicants - the first of these can be found here.

To find out more about getting a Woodfuel Woodland Improvement Grant, contact Mike Furness on 01494 568970 /

The grant is delivered by Ngage Solutions across the South East, South West and the county of Cumbria, on behalf of The Forestry Commission.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Business development grants available from Low Carbon Plus

The markets for waste wood, biomass fuel, firewood and fencing are continuing to improve in Kent and we are aware of several new projects and initiatives that should impact right across the supply chain. 

We also know that the sector has struggled with investment in machinery in recent years.  This is partially due to poor markets, but also because grants programmes such as LEADER are not currently active.

Help is at hand!  

The Low Carbon Plus project offers grants to businesses to fund 45% of the cost of qualifying projects. The minimum grant that can be awarded is £1,000 and the maximum grant amount is £20,000.

We are aware that several Kent-based woodland management/wood fuel businesses that have already successfully applied to Low Carbon Plus.  One firewood supplier will use the grant to help improve storage facilities whilst a woodland contractor will use the grant for a new forwarder.

More details can be found below.

Projects must lead to business growth and/or job creation.  Grant funding can be used to cover the following types of expenditure:

  • Development finance: funding required to expand the business such as marketing costs
  • Plant and machinery: costs of re-tooling and installation of machinery and hardware, as well as training required to operate it
  • Intangible assets: including costs of purchasing patents, IT, software and licences  
  • Consultancy costs: including marketing and business planning

Funding cannot be allocated retrospectively, and only applications where no activity has yet taken place will be considered.

The initial application form can be found here.  Participants are encouraged to join the Low Carbon Kent business network.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Biomass Suppliers List

We have been referring to new requirements around the sustainability of biomass fuels for some time now so we were pleased to see that the Biomass Suppliers List (BSL) has now been launched.

The Biomass Suppliers List is the process employed by UK Government to ensure that publicly funded subsidies such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) remain eligible under the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

The RED Directive requires users of biomass fuel that are claiming the RHI to meet a lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions target of 60% GHG savings against the EU fossil fuel average.

In a nutshell this means that the carbon footprint of a biomass fuel must deliver a substantial carbon saving compared to oil, gas or coal to ensure that biomass retains its 'low carbon' or 'carbon neutral' status.

What does this mean to users and producers of biomass fuels?

The BSL applies to users, producers, self-suppliers and traders of 'woody biomass'.  

For a fuel user in receipt of the RHI (commercial or domestic) they will need to demonstrate to Ofgem that their fuel is from a source recognised by the BSL. 

In turn this means that anyone supplying an RHI accredited biomass boiler will need to be registered on the BSL.  Self-suppliers will also need to be listed on the BSL.  

In addition to BSL accreditation biomass traders/wholesalers will also be listed on a public register.

Effectively any fuel used or supplied to an RHI accredited boiler will need to have BSL accreditation.

Which fuels are included?
  • Pellets – virgin
  • Pellets – waste
  • Pellets – waste virgin blend
  • Briquettes – virgin
  • Briquettes – waste
  • Briquettes – waste virgin blend
  • Chip – virgin naturally seasoned
  • Chip – virgin force dried
  • Chip – waste
  • Chip – waste virgin blend
  • Firewood – virgin naturally seasoned
  • Firewood – virgin force dried
  • Firewood – waste
  • Firewood – waste virgin blend
What are the requirements?

All applicants must agree to the scheme terms and conditions, which include requirements around reporting, agreement to be subject to periodic audits, and the provision of proofs of purchase in the form of invoices or receipts with information about the fuel on them.

How do I apply?

The application process is completed online at the new BSL portal.

For users and self-suppliers the process is relatively simple.  After selecting the a supplier type applicants are required to respond to a set of questions (which vary according to the supplier type).

Self-suppliers, for example, are required to sign a declaration and upload a copy of a Forestry Commission approved management plan.

For traders and producers the process is a little more complicated and may require the completion and uploading of product data and carbon footprint calculations (via the B2C2 carbon calculator).

All applicants need to accept a set of terms and conditions that confirm acceptance of the scheme rules and which enables the BSL to undertake ongoing checks or audits.

The BSL FAQ is a good place to start.  Application guidance is also available on the BSL portal.

Overall we feel that the BSL is an appropriate method for accrediting and monitoring biomass fuels that are being used in publicly-funded biomass boilers.  

The BSL may initially appear to be bureaucratic but we are confident that most people will get to grips with it fairly easily.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Plant health - new grant and revised guidance from Forestry Commission

Source: Wikipedia
New support is now being offered by the Forestry Commission through a new Plant Health Woodland Improvement Grant (PH WIG) which brings together a number of previous plant health support mechanisms. 

Additionally the FC will be retaining Woodland Regeneration Grant (WRG) where the restocking is following defined Plant Health issues. 

The respective new and updated guidance is available via the following links:

Plant Health Woodland Improvement Grant

Woodland Regeneration Grant

Plant Health WIG

The PH WIG brings together elements of the following previous grant support:

  • Removing Rhododendron within 3km of Phytophthora ramorum and kernoviae infections (which is mainly affecting south west England, although there is one reported outbreak site in Kent near Ashford).
  • Removing P.ramorum infected immature larch paying a site fee to cover the costs of professional help in implementing harvesting plans for P.ramorum infected larch

Source: Wikipedia
This new PH WIG also replaces elements of the previous WIG for removal of recently planted ash on Chalara fraxinea infected sites.

This grant is designed to cover the infections mentioned above and any subsequent plant health disease the Forestry Commission decides requires action that can be funded through EWGS.

Plant Health WRG

Due to the significant uptake of WRG in previous years and the need to maintain funding for other, higher priority, grant types, funding for WRG is
now limited to the 14/15 and 15/16 years to restocking sites related to plant health issues only. The revised guidance sets out: 
Source: Wikipedia

  • Revised eligibility requirements for WRG in relation to Plant Health payment rates and available claim years
  • Extension of the Plant Health related supplements to include Chalara infected sites

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Meadow plant identification - Free training event