Manchester Timber and Firewood from TreeStation
John Dennis introduces Manchester’s new supplier of sustainable wood products.
At a time when the UK Government is subsidising large-scale biomass electricity generation, potentially putting woodland at risk, and firewood and wood pellets are being shipped in from eastern Europe and even Canada, you would be forgiven for questioning whether biomass can significantly help to reduce our carbon emissions.
It makes a big difference if your firewood comes not from primary forest in the Baltics, but from trees that grew in Greater Manchester, were cut down as part of a positive woodland management programme and were processed at a yard in the city. That is what Gorton-based TreeStation does, and it offers Manchester residents a green alternative to firewood nets imported from Lithuania.
TreeStation is a social enterprise in arboriculture, timber and wood fuels, owned by community shareholders and constituted as a Society for the Benefit of the Community, a type of democratically run cooperative. It aims to reduce carbon emissions by keeping carbon locked up in timber products or producing carbon-lean wood fuels for the local market.
TreeStation undertakes essential treework and woodland management across the city and surrounding areas. What other tree surgeons may regard as waste, TreeStation sees as a valuable resource. All the treework arisings are used to make products that someone will find useful: from kindling and firewood, to sleepers for allotments and gardeners, to high-grade woodchip to feed biomass boilers, to composts and mulches.
If a felled tree is suitable, TreeStation will have it sawn into planks so it can become someone’s kitchen table, worktop or a smaller item, such as a chopping board. Wood is also available for artists and hobbyists, and large trunk sections with interesting qualities can be sculpted to order for playgrounds, gardens or country parks. When the provenance of so many imported timber products is in doubt, it is reassuring to know that TreeStation sources all its timber from the local area.
TreeStation was set up in 2008 by Managing Director Phil Benn, a natural evolution of his sustainable treework and firewood business, Ecos. Operating in an environmentally and socially conscious way is central to the business, which sources products locally, minimises waste, maximises resources, and is run on a not-for-profit basis. The yard can also accept and process treework arisings from other arboriculture contractors and land managers, offering a no-fuss, green solution that turns their wood waste into useful products.