Thursday, 24 October 2019

A Pile of Plaquettes


A big pile of wood chips (Fr. plaquettes).
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

This pile of wood chips represents one of the latest banes of the countryside. An enterprising local farmer has invested in some big forestry equipment and is going around convincing other landowners to allow him to harvest small patches of woodland. The bigger trunks he sends off to become lumber at the sawmill, but the tree tops and smaller and less valuable trees he munches up in his giant chipper to sell as fuel for big modern 'eco-friendly' heating systems, or as the raw material for paper making at the big factory in Descartes.

 The newly cleared site.
Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The problem is that he is targetting any and all parcels of woodland, destroying wildlife corridors and homogenising the landscape so it is no longer a mosaic of dozens of different habitats supporting a rich biodiversity. On top of that, nothing is being left to rot back into the soil to maintain fertility. With a site like this there is a risk of erosion and an invasion of weedy plant species (in this case, Robinia pseudoacacia) which will lower the biodiversity value. Current government policy unfortunately encourages this sort of wood chip production, as it is categorised as biofuel and/or a renewable resource. I don't see much evidence that tree planting is keeping up with tree removal in the Loire Valley at present.


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9 comments:

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Bleedin' eejit has managed to blow half a tree or more's worth of chips up the cliff face... he'll not retrieve that, so at least some will remain. And Maria Fremlin is of the opinion that the Stag females will lay in woodchip... Stanley was not the first larva to be found in wood chip.
And his big trunks aren't going for lumber... he has a huge stock up there of 2m and 3m lengths for processing into traditional firewood [his original diversification] and to be split to a size that his chipper can handle.
You really need to have a driveby and see the operation... a HUGE hanger with four bays full of plaquettes ready to sell, a double that size mountain of chippings... and then the good stuff stacked for lumber... and other stacks for processing.
And then there is his equipment... he has spent money on very specialist, one-man stuff. Lots of it!!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Plaquettes de bois are also called plaquettes forestières, plaquettes (de bois) sèches, copeaux de bois, or du bois déchiqueté. There is an interesting table on this site (scroll down to heading 2. Le Bois déchiqueté) comparing the amounts of various fuels needed to heat the average house annually, and the amount of CO² released by different fuels.

Susan said...

FYI, Bruno and Dotty tell me that the plaquettes used to fuel the communal boiler in Preuilly are sustainably source. Apparently they come from a bloke who uses woody waste from the tip. That's the way to do it.

Susan said...

Thanks for this Ken.

Jean said...

Misguided enterprise is no better than rampant vandalism and if you add opportunism and wanton disregard for wildlife into the equation you have.....a disaster in the making.

chm said...

Off topic - Just a question, will we be still talking about Brexit extensions in 2050?

Le Pré de la Forge said...

Very interesting site Ken.... thanks.

Le Pré de la Forge said...

2095 I understand...

Colin and Elizabeth said...

We probably will not be around to see the outcome!!

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