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How sustainable is firewood? Foresters and forest owners explain - tips for wood stove owners


There has been a lot of discussion about firewood lately. For example because of its environmental friendliness and fine dust pollution. Forester Robert Nörr emphasizes that firewood is "almost climate-neutral".

There has been a lot of discussion about firewood lately.

For example because of its environmental friendliness and fine dust pollution.

Forester Robert Nörr emphasizes that firewood is "almost climate-neutral".

Deining – The tractor rattles loudly on Markus Huber's property.

The Deininger stands concentrated behind his green vehicle, to which a log splitter is attached.

District forester Robert Nörr looks over his shoulder and observes the scenery with satisfaction.

Huber takes a last look at a piece of wood at his feet, then presses the on button: the wedge moves down quickly and with a crunching noise it splits the wood into two pieces.

Huber manages 30 hectares of forest.

The 38-year-old farmer produces around 100 stere of firewood per year.

Sustainability of firewood: The CO2 cycle plays an important role in this

But that's exactly what has been a topic of discussion recently - for example in connection with its sustainability, environmental compatibility and fine dust pollution.

“Contrary to popular belief, heating with wood is not climate-neutral,” writes the Federal Ministry for the Environment on its website.

Heating with wood is compatible with the climate “only under very limited conditions”.

Nörr and Huber see it very differently.

"Firewood is almost climate-neutral and extremely important for creating stable forests," emphasizes the 53-year-old forester.

Firewood is almost carbon neutral and extremely important to create stable forests.

Robert Nörr, district forester from Wolfratshausen.

The CO2 cycle plays an important role here: The trees bind carbon dioxide by using it to form their wood, explains Nörr.

This process removes CO2 from the atmosphere.

When it is burned, only as much carbon dioxide is emitted as the tree previously absorbed.

This balance is only "reduced by 0.5 to two percent" due to the low energy consumption for felling, transport and shredding.

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Nörr has prepared a graphic on the subject of carbon dioxide.

It shows that if you compare the CO2 emissions per kilowatt hour of heat from the various systems, wood and solar thermal are "unbeatable".

In comparison, heating oil and gas produce eight to 20 times the carbon dioxide emissions.

"Domestic firewood has an unbeatable CO2 balance and is particularly environmentally friendly," emphasizes the forester

Fine dust pollution from wood-burning stoves: "Wrong conditions and wrong technology" are often to blame

At the same time, the 53-year-old does not deny the harmful fine dust emissions when burning wood.

In Germany, wood-burning stoves contribute to one-fifth of fine dust pollution.

However, he does not see the problem in the raw material itself, but in "wrong conditions and wrong techniques" (see box).

"These things can simply be turned off." Apart from that, the age of the heaters is relevant.

Newer models emit significantly less particulate matter.

"Simply to say: The ovens generate too much fine dust and should all be abolished - that's not possible," Nörr clarifies.

Less fine dust emissions: Wood stove owners should take this into account

Anyone who burns wood often makes mistakes that lead to high fine dust emissions.

However, if you observe a few important points, you can counteract this.

• Note the moisture content of the wood: Soot particles are increasingly formed when damp wood is burned.

They not only disturb the neighbors, but are also harmful to the environment.

The wood moisture should therefore be below 20 percent.

• Fire up properly: Many wood stove owners light the fire from the bottom up.

However, significantly less smoke and fine dust are produced when igniting from top to bottom.

• Do not refire too soon: only when the fire has completely burned down to the embers and there is no longer a flame is it the right time to put more wood in the stove.

If the oven is overloaded, too much heat will build up.

This means that optimal combustion does not take place.

• Adjust the air supply correctly: In order to avoid unnecessary fine dust, the air supply should only be turned on when firing up and refilling.

Once the fire is lit, the primary air can be turned down to almost zero.


Discussion or not: since last year, forest owner Huber has seen “huge demand” for his firewood.

The triggers were the Ukraine war and the associated gas crisis.

Many of his customers, almost exclusively private individuals from the region, often bought three times as much as usual as a precaution.

Is firewood sustainable?

Material is a "waste product" and is created automatically during forest maintenance

According to Huber, the sustainability of firewood is also supported by the fact that the material is a "waste product" and is created automatically during forest maintenance.

In order for trees to grow stably, “they need light”.

In order to make way for healthy, strong specimens, weak ones have to give way.

There is no alternative to regional wood such as that from abroad.

"There are often less strict rules when it comes to deforestation," says Deininger.

In addition, there is a long transport route.

Farmers and district foresters agree: With regional material, wood stove owners can continue to fire up their heating without a guilty conscience.

Nörr: "If you take it exactly, they supported the forest care."


Read the latest news from the Wolfratshausen/Geretsried region here.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2023-03-23

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