[Agroforestry] Re: Use of Lombardy poplars

Nick Maclaren nmm1 at cus.cam.ac.uk
Thu Sep 22 17:36:30 EST 2005

In article <KPclYjATsyMDFw3U at drumin.demon.co.uk>,
Will Anderson  <will at drumin*.com> wrote:
>In article <dgv7kh$8al$1 at gemini.csx.cam.ac.uk>, Nick Maclaren 
><nmm1 at cus.cam.ac.uk> writes
>>Eh?  An "old chestnut" implies that it is false - well, as you know,
>>it assuredly isn't (at present) :-(
>My comment was aimed at your general statement which seemed to suggest 
>that all upland forestry was trash. Now I have managed and seen some 
>pretty horrific stuff, even converted some of it back to moorland or bog 
>but please don't tar it all with the same brush. If I have misunderstood 
>your position on this I apologise.

Ah!  Sorry - I was being unclear again.  I was referring to the
trees as "trash", which they generally are.  There is a strong
sense in which coppicing is the deliberate production of trash
trees :-)

>>Nah.  We were delivered a load when we were told elm.
>Never been a fan of elm on an open fire. Not enough flame.

It's better than poplar :-(

>>unfortunate fact is that it is not viable on its own, though using
>>straw from grain harvests might well be viable.
>In the same way as utilisation of small roundwood from conventional 
>plantations could be. Both can be considered co-products from existing 
>economic (if subsidised) activities.

Yes.  And coppiced hardwoods (on the lowlands) can produce crops
of edible fungi before being used for fuel.

>>I should like to see a proper engineering analysis of its benefit,
>>INCLUDING the energy needed to build and man it.  I doubt that it
>>would come out positive enough to be worth bothering with.
>So, given that we need to look at non fossil energy sources what would 
>you consider in its place if you think that it is not viable?

My remark was about such a scheme in the north of Scotland.  That
area is easily self-sufficient in energy by the use of wind power :-)

>We have a long term problem with coal and oil.
>Nuclear has its own waste problems.


>Wind is questionable, even the windfarm developers will tell you it is 
>not a long term solution to our energy problems.

Grrk.  A solution on its own, no.  A component of a solution, yes.
As I was saying just recently, provided that care is taken not to
destroy too much of the sea bed, all of the sandbanks on the North
Sea could be covered by windfarms with no harm to anything or

>Wave I have a lot of time for but it is currently technically difficult.

I think that is more a matter on effort (i.e. money and time) than
anything else.  But it is only comparable with wind.

>The Scandinavian countries seem to manage with a good proportion of 
>woodfuel, why then does it not work here?

It could, easily, but that DOESN'T mean that the standard approach
of covering the north of Scotland with blankets of conifers will
work.  The soil and climate is too poor (worse even than the
Scandinavian highlands) and the distances to where the power is used
too large.

My ideas on how to do this are too radical for most people, but I
assert are technically viable and ecologically sound :-)

Basically, we should shift back to an economy based more on hunting,
so that all currently "set-aside" land (and more) would be coppiced,
and more of our meat would be venison.  A LOT more.  And I would
reintroduce lynx, to help balance the ecologies.

New estates and some converted ones could then be heated by straw
and coppiced wood (perhaps after farming fungi), and the extra
woodland would provide recreational facilities.  Including hunting,
and NOT just by 'professionals'.

Fat hope :-(

Nick Maclaren.

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