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Author Topic: Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands  (Read 3184 times)


  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands
« on: June 15, 2018, 11:33:22 pm »
What species of trees are the best suited to grow for firewood in the Scottish highlands? Im talking western coast - Ross-shire.
Can you coppice? Standard hazel, willow, poplar, chestnut, sycamore? Can you grow those?
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.


  • Joined Jul 2012
Re: Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2018, 08:36:30 am »
The best thing is to see what grows naturally then go from there. On the east coast and in our location sitka spruce is the one most planred - the trees are slow to mature and aren't worth much - mostly going for biomass. Willow grows quickly for us - if you can keep the rabbits/ deer/ voles off. Hazel slow growing, chestnut probably too cold and very slow growing, sycamore is abit of a weed. The forestry ccommission would be able to give you site specific recommendations.  Good luck!


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
    • Trelay Cohousing Community
Re: Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2018, 02:55:49 pm »
If you're growing for firewood, you also want to consider which woods burn well, how long they take to season, etc.

Sycamore and field maple need good seasoning and aren't the best burners, in my experience. 

Sitka and other softwoods burn hot but fast; brash is great for firelighting, but still needs seasoning.  My memory is telling me that larch needs seasoning for two years... is that right?

Ash is the prince of woods, will burn green and burns very very hot, for ages, leaving only... ash, hence its name.  But ash can be hard to get hold of these days, due to the ash dieback disease, so please don't bring ash in from otherwhere; either find a reputable local supplier who is using only locally-sourced and grown trees, or take your own cuttings from trees nearby.

Beech and hornbeam are good, but I don't know if they'll grow where you are.  And are not the fastest growers. 

Hedgerows are a lovely way to grow firewood for harvesting; usually on a ten year cycle.  And the plants protect each other, provide shelter for livestock, habitat for wildlife, etc.  Hawthorn, blackthorn, hollies, and other such natives are the usual components.

In Wales you find a lot of laburnum hedging, which is harvested on a ten year cycle for firewood.  It's a grand burning wood, but I never did establish how come the livestock aren't poisoned by the flowers and seeds :o

In Cumbria we used to use Trees Please - their website is full of useful information about the various ways of using trees and the habitats created.  I imagine there's at least one Scottish equivalent.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cows (rearing their own calves for beef), pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2018, 10:38:29 pm »
Birch.  It grows pretty much everywhere in the Highlands, grows fairly fast and produces good quality firewood.  I've never seen it coppiced so don't know how well it takes to that.

Rowan grows similarly fast.  Alder is even faster but needs a wet spot and more drying once cut.

I've seen plenty old hazel coppice stands and a long long time ago there was a lot of oak coppiced around Loch Maree for smelting iron but oak grows so desperately slowly that I wouldn't bother (my oak trees are about 5 years old and still only 40cm tall!).  Hazel might be worth a try though.

The only place I have ever seen sweet chestnut is Nairn/Moray and even there I have never seen it fruit which suggests we are pretty much outside of its range.

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Growing firewood in Scottish Highlands
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2018, 08:48:02 pm »
We're on the east coast, so milder.
Larch is dreadful for splitting and burning. we cut 5 and thankfully are just about through them. It's sticky, spitty, tarry stuff.

Birch burns got and fast so best with a good stove which you can 'turn down' as on our open fire it was gone too quickly.

Ash is the best firewood but there's no point planting it unless there's a die back restistant strains available for sale now? Do trees grow much up there? I think you'd be fairly limited to spruce, birch, willow, Rowan.?  Rowan burns well and coppices. Birch will regrow from a stump but come back very scraggly and doesn't come to much. I've never rated willow for burning but obviously it can be great as so many use it.
What do others grow?
Oak and beech may be fine but slow/ stunted/ need a nurse crop but then if you're planning to coppice rather than wanting big parkland trees either may be good?


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