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Size of a Sustainable Woodlot?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by timfromohio, Aug 11, 2009.

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  1. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Any of you folks out there heat with wood harvested solely from your own property? If so, what size is your woodlot? How many acres of decent mixed hardwood would be required to sustainably provide fuel to heat a home - say 4 to 5 cords a year? I'm sure there is a range depending on type/mix of trees, average age of trees, etc - I'm just interested in ballpark size - is it a few acres or 20 acres?

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  2. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I'd say this will be quite a bit more than "a few" acres. I cut my wood on a family lot that is 150 acres. No worries of running out. My brother-in-law rarely cuts on his own property which is 10 acres because he doesn't want to thin the woods too much. If I had to guess I'd want to be in the 20-40 acre range if you want it to stay big and healthy. But maybe you could get by on 10 acres if it was dense and full grown??? Others will surely comment...
  3. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I think I read somewhere that a 10 acre lot can heat a home sustainably. I didn't think sustainably was a word, but spell check thinks so. I don't remember the details such as climate, home size, or what you burn it in. But I do know that the article lead me to believe that 10 acre wood lot would work for my 1800 sqft 3 bed house with a single wood stove.
  4. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Cornell says that a well managed woodlot produces between a face cord and a cord per acre per year.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    This place has four and a half acres of woods and I have been heating with wood from it for 25 years. When I was burning five to six cords a year I supplemented with a tree or two from the adjoining woods but since I now burn three and change a year it all comes off of our place. And it isn't looking like I will be turning it into a parking lot in my lifetime.
  6. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I'd also say about 5+ acres.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    7 acres of established hardwoods will provide the average home (4-5 cords) of wood from non-living or undesirable trees without touching the healthy/desirable ones sustainably.

    I read that somewhere but can't for the life of me remember where. It did stick into a few of the remaining brain cells though. %-P
  8. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    Jags,
    That sounds almost exactly what I remembered. Maybe we both read it here. I just added a few acres for safety.
  9. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I've read 5 acres. I've got 12 acres of mature woods, and I'm still working at clearing out the dead and fallen
    ones.
  10. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    tim we have 25 acres and have cut 20 cords since the mid 70's. Now with a newer EPA stove we require half that or less. I'm thinking 8 acres of woods should do ya fine for 5 cord. Back then DEC told us to harvest the dead trees, biggest trees, junk trees. So we've done that and to look around you wouldn't think we cut any trees here at all.

    I wouldn't say we have hard wood in comparison to what I read here. Our hardest wood is elm...which I really don't like to dick with but since it's dead I deal with it. Then we have ash and maple ...also we burn a lot of poplar, cotton wood and willow which is junk wood but if you keep is separate works out wonderful...you just don't want to go to bed with that in the stove cause it won't last long. But all things considered junk wood holds up better in the newer stoves. We burn everything cause it's an easy take being in the back yard and all.
  11. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    On average (this varies some from region to region) - one can take 1 cord of firewood per acre without reducing overall biomass. So if you burn 5 cord per year, you need 5 (or so) acres.
  12. quads

    quads Minister of Fire

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    I agree.

    I cut my wood on about 500 acres. After you get your piles built up and are a few years ahead, then I think you could cut every year from 5+ heavily wooded acres and maintain your seasoned supply indefinitely.
  13. jj3500

    jj3500 Member

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    My house is on a seven acre parcel. However, the adjacent lot on the other three sides is considered water shed property. No more building there and I am always in there riding and felling.
    This will be my second season of burning...so far so good.
  14. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    So far our 4.5 acres is providing about 2 cords a year in just dead or down trees, and that's not including a fairly impenetrable rear acre. However, trees grow a lot slower in da UP than in say Virginia, and these woods haven't been managed in a long time if ever. I think to sustain 3-4 cords per year long term we'd have to really start actively managing the woods.
  15. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    My father and grandfather always said 25 acres would heat a family. But they burned a lot of wood in ineffecient stoves in ineffecient homes.
    You guys have me thinking about my choice of wood, too. I buy red or white maple or better (tree length - I cut it and split it), but you are
    right that the new stoves can handle the softer wood.
    I live on 6 acres, and my sister next door (who burns propane) has another 6. But the 12 acres is almost all softwood: spruce and fir. Some
    maple and white birch.
    So - I've got 17 cord of hardwood put up now, and hope that my new gasser boiler will only burn 8 cord or so. I have a cord of softwood ready
    for it - to experiment how well it burns. If it does well, I may be able to stop buying hardwood, and just manange the 12 acres I have around
    me. What a savings that would be!
    Thanks, Tim. You've really got me thinking with your question! Do you have access to some land now, or are you looking to buy a piece to get
    a sustainalbe supply of your own wood? Do you want only hardwood, or can you take a mix of hard and soft?
    Happy burning!
  16. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for all of the replies. We currently have just under 2 acres with no trees suitable for firewood. I scrounge ... In the future, we'd like to get a larger piece of property which would include a woodlot from which we could harvest our own firewood, but I had no idea how much woodland would be required - thanks for all of the information!!!

    maplewood - I'd prefer hardwood, although I suppose I could take a mix. Currently we use a PE insert and a Napolean 1150p to heat our home and I used scrounged hardwood (readily available in NE Ohio). I should be able to mix in some softwood, but have never tried burning softwood in either insert/stove.
  17. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    One thing to consider is if the lot has been managed in the past. Inevitably if there has been natural regeneration without management, there are a lot more trees that a managed woodlot would have. If you manage for future harvesting of high grade logs, typically, at least 2/3rds of the existing trees should go. Eventually you will end up with the "state park look" which is well spaced large trees without a lot of understory and a dense canopy. The reason to manage for high grade logs is that if you have the right mature trees (hardwoods), one or two of them can be worth far more than a couple of cords of wood. By taking your time clearing out the low grade trees over a period of years, this is "bonus" wood that would not count towards the sustainable rate of the wood land. It will also improve the looks and access to the land. Its very impressive over the long run to see how well the canopy fills in from a few healthy trees where clumps of trees formerly stood.
  18. GeeWizMan

    GeeWizMan Member

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    We have 7 acres, have been heating with wood for 14 years, and use 2 wood stoves. From mid-November to March something, one of the stoves is kept going 24/7 while the other stove is used daily but allowed to go out during the daytime. The 7 acres consists of mature oak and hickory varying in size from 12 inch to 40 inch diameters at the base. There are some other species in the woods like cherry, maple, and a few ash left but, most are oak and hickory. In the 14 years I have been harvesting wood from our property I have felled a living tree only one time which was a little too close to the house and leaning the wrong way. Every year when I walk through the trails in the woods, after I have removed all the dead wood, I wonder if any more trees will give up their life so we can stay warm in the winter. So far, every spring there is just enough trees that die to sustain us and as far as we can tell the woods remains healthy. In addition to harvesting dead would every year we transplant living samplings to places where they will be able to make it but, the biggest one of those is only 2 inches in diameter and won't be ready for the stove for 50 to 100 years at which time someone else will have to take care of the woods.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Maple is hardwood.

    It definitely depends upon the ground as to how much woods it would take. For example, someone who has wood on high sandy ground won't get as much wood as someone who has his wood in the low lands, especially river bottom lands.

    On average, I'd hate to have less than 7-10 acres.
  20. timfromohio

    timfromohio Minister of Fire

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    Backwoods Savage - yes, I do know that maple is hardwood. I was replying to another poster, "maplewood".

    Seems like 10 acres would be a minimum, but more would be better!

    What would be really nice would be a woodlot large enough to supply firewood sustainably as well as contain enough mature sugar maple trees to tap for syrup!!! I'd have my firewood and eat my syrup too ...
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Now you are talking!
  22. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    You have 12 wooded acres and you're still buying wood?
  23. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I'm amazed how much softwood I pick up from people who burn wood. Scratch head, keep mouth shut, nod when they talk about using it for campfires and load up the trailer.
  24. PunKid8888

    PunKid8888 New Member

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    I am currently planning on doing this to my little 1.1 acre lot. I really only have half an arce or less as woods but its such a mixture of old and new growth trees, and lots of dead standing trees that did not make it tall enough to get enough light. I plan on marking all the dead trees, then come in during the fall when its cooler and fell them. Maybe next year I will start removing some of the smaller saplings that are clustered together. My other problem is young and mid growth trees all along the property line. two problems with them is they are all with in 6 feet of the house, and all technically on my neighbors property. So I need to figure out a plan of attack for those.
  25. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I've passed over a lot of fir, spruce, pine and poplar. My land is about 90%+ of this softwood. Only a little maple (I hear this is hardwood...a back woods savage told me so) and some small white birch we call water birch. The reason I've walked past this over the years is that it doesn't have the BTU density to last overnight, and leave a bed of coals for the morning. You can argue in favour of softwood all you want, but I've never had a 7 hour burn out of it. Maybe with my new Econoburn I'll be pleasantly surprised! I'm definitely going to try it.

    I do burn a little softwood either in the infamous "shoulder seasons" or during the daytime, when I can tend the fire more frequently.
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