Homegrown firewood or imported firewood?

The question of whether to source UK homegrown firewood, or imported wood, is one talked about on an almost daily basis in the winter fuels business. Should we use exclusively home-grown timber or, should some wood be sourced from overseas?

Log pile in Latvia Log pile in Latvia

The answer is, in fact simple: It is impossible to sustainably fuel the UK’s growing wood fuel and biomass demand on exclusively home grown timber.

From inception, Logs Direct have supported local estates, both in Lancashire and Cumbria. We made the decision to buy from smaller estates who were more open to dialogue and willing to listen to our requirements. Alongside sourcing timber from local suppliers in Lancashire and Cumbria, we also procured from larger timber companies, but still in the UK. But due to a number of factors — including the relatively small pool of sustainable wood in the UK and the increasing demand for wood biomass, due to wood chip fired power stations coming online — it became increasingly apparent that the UK market was going to become unrealistic to trade in.

At this point, we took the decision to secure some of our firewood supply from abroad. As well as having our own kiln, Logs Direct now sources a percentage of our Kiln Dried firewood directly from Latvia. We chose Latvia. It’s a modern EU country with a mature policy framework on active sustainability and forest management. It has a more established and highly regulated forestry industry than the UK. Latvia is currently in a long-term trend of forest increase, from 24.7% in 1924 to 53% in 2009 by land area coverage (citations from the United Nations and the Latvian government). Forming relationships with a new supplier is never easy, especially in a foreign country. You have to get know the people, and the culture, and form new connections. Over a 4 year period, we have got know a number of great Latvian people who we don’t consider suppliers but friends. We work very closely together, making sure the woodlands are replanted, everybody in the chain is paid fairly and that our partnerships are equally successful.

So, back to the initial question of whether to source home grown or imported firewood? Logs Direct use a mixture of both UK and overseas obtained virgin wood biomass. As long as they supply a good quality product and focus on sustainability and fair trade, we will continue to use both locally sourced timber and biomass obtained from abroad.

Stephen and Phil in negotiations Stephen and Phil in negotiations
Industrial Kiln in Northern Latvia Industrial Kiln in Northern Latvia