How to turn trees into houses, and why it’s a good idea

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Posted Dec 6 2014 by Dave Darby of Lowimpact.org

There’s a lot of talk these days about ‘carbon sequestration’ – how to lock up carbon from the atmosphere in various ways, including:

  • pumping it underground, into the cavities in rocks where the oil used to be
  • allowing trees to turn the carbon into wood, then cutting down the trees and turning the wood into biochar (for soil improvement as well as carbon capture)
  • or even cutting down trees and just burying the timber

Well, how about storing carbon in our buildings? Let’s build homes of timber, rather than bricks and mortar – especially as brick kilns and the cement industry are responsible for a large chunk of our carbon emissions, as well as a range of nasty pollutants.

This only works if we plant more trees of course – so what we’re advocating is a combination of woodland management, timber processing and timber construction. Where could we possibly find reliable information on all those things?

Funny you should ask – we have a new book out on just that. It’s by Andy Reynolds – a smallholder and woodsman from Lincolnshire. He’s well-known to us – he’s run courses and written books for us over the last ten years. He’s also built his own timber ‘eco-lodge’; his smallholding is completely off-grid, powered by solar panels and a wind turbine; his toilets are of the composting variety, and his home is heated by wood stoves.

eco-lodge

The eco-lodge

You can stay in the eco-lodge (see here) and you can check out Andy’s videos on his YouTube channel (see here) – everything from installing renewables to fixing chainsaws – fascinating stuff for you handy folk out there.

The book contains sections on:

  • growing trees
  • felling trees
  • different species and their characteristics
  • timber conversion methods and efficiency
  • measuring timber
  • sharpening different types of saws
  • drying timber
  • transport
  • timber preparation

The information he provides has been collected through years of working in the construction and forestry industries. He has done everything that he describes many, many times – he’s not an armchair theorist. The book also contains lots of anecdotes, and will be accompanied by a series of videos on his YouTube channel.

Andy wants to demonstrate the practical use of ‘low-value’ local timber and how it can support the small-scale timber conversion industry. He shares our passion for small-scale, local companies over gigantic global corporations, as well as helping people to improve their skill base and become more self-reliant. He (and we) believe that there may be some difficult times on the way, and the more practical skills you have, the better.

Let’s plant more trees and build more timber homes!

Click here to buy the book.