There is some land we have doing nothing, and the idea of being semi-sustainable long-term in firewood is attractive. I believe in the northern UK, silver birch is a good choice for fast growing firewood, but realistically how many years does it take to have a trunk thick enough to use for firewood? I guess we'd say the trunk needs to be 4-6".

Is it feasible that if I planted a copse of trees now, I could be harvesting in 10 years? How many such trees would likely be needed to burn over a winter e.g. kgs of wood per tree per year.

Is this realistically something I can do or are we talking multiple decades?

  • Ten years is over optimistic - more likely 20, but Birch are not long lived trees - average life span 40-60 years.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 14:32
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    You should contact forestry.gov.uk . They could help you on choosing the right species (taking into account various parameters: climate, soil, pest protections. 10-15 years are the minimum. But after you have a forest, the next harvests will be quicker for some trees (e.g. ash will regrowth from existing roots, just keep some part of trunk, but ash probably is not ideal in the North). Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 14:36
  • We actually have a lot of ash trees - established and saplings springing up like weeds - but no idea how fast they grow up here.
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 14:45
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    I found this myself: nativeforestry.co.uk/firewood.html
    – Mr. Boy
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 15:17
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    You could look into willow grown for coppicing bowhayestrees.co.uk/logging-information says that after 4--6 years you get 3--4" trunks, which makes your 10 years for slightly thicker logs look feasible if you want to wait that long.
    – Chris H
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 16:52

1 Answer 1


It depends on the species. Some are fast growers, others are slow growers.

My grandparents have planted black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia) to border a small garden they had. The trees were growing fast and then parts of them were cut for firewood because of its high heat content. These trees have an invasive habit and they are kept from invading by tilling the soil in the garden every autumn.

Other people have planted dense forests on small areas and they completely cut the trees after 10-15 years. They also use a claw-like machinery that I don't know what it's called, to easily dig up the roots that are also used as firewood. These dense forests rapidly grow in height because early branches are removed and the trees have the tendency to reach for the light. Lately they plant thornless black locusts.

  • I've seen this 'claw' like thing as well. What it is for is to GNAW down big trees instead of sawing them down. I got to know this wonderful forest behind my home, walking while pregnant. Heavenly. Came home with baby and went on a walk and that entire forest had been wiped out with these claws. Erosion, nests, other mammal homes, the trillium, the wild ginger...all wiped out. Wiped out. That claw is horrible. Established forests need to be left alone. Just use our 'crops' of trees or make lumber out of plastic milk cartons (very nice stuff). Bothers me a lot wiping out life systems.
    – stormy
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 8:46

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