Alice and Del were present at the launch of the visitor centre building of the Long Wood Community Woodland (CGLWCW) in Wales, a useful opportunity for Alice to see how communities in Wales are dealing with biomass and to talk with the volunteers that worked for the place.
We got to know Long Wood, a 300 acre mixed, community-owned woodland which includes over 9 miles of footpaths and bridleways to enjoy and explore.
It was established in 2003 as a social enterprise in West Wales, originally owned by the Forestry Commission. The directors successfully applied for grants allowing the directors to purchase the woodland and employ a project manager and support staff to begin to develop it as a sustainable business and community leisure facility.
During the years that followed the place was converted, with the help of the community to an educational and volunteer centre. It sales sustainable timber and promotes the use of it.
The best example they provided is the building of the visiting centre whose opening we attended. Entirely made from timber from the land and with the help of the volunteers, it is ready to serve as a centre for operations, offer a warm dry base for volunteers working there and be available to groups both local and from further afield.
Some technical details about the building: the frame is made from larch and the cladding boards are larch and douglas fir. The roof is larch cladding inside and out and insulated with sheep wool. All the joints are manually carved using traditional techniques and are held in place with wooden pegs. Internally the walls are built from straw bales. Recent research confirms that straw bales are extremely insulating and also low cost with a neutral carbon footprint. Taking in consideration that the electricity comes from the solar panels installed on the roof, we can truly say it’s a sustainable building with a minimum impact.
The feeling of being inside the building was very cosy – outside was light rain, inside the warmth of the wood welcomed us. The stove (using logs, of course) was not needed since the good insulation and the number of people inside made it comfortable enough.
Near it there is a compost toilet that uses sawdust.
As a personal impression this is a much efficient way of using biomass that should be considered more in rural communities. This building passed all the regulations and it’s low-cost and low-impact. I was impressed to see how united the community was to get to the point.
Unfortunately, wood has been forgotten in countries like UK and Ireland and people don’t build with it even though this type of resource is more eco-friendly. Biomass is versatile and can work to achieve a cleaner environment in more ways.
Our GEAI member, Del, previously volunteered in the construction of this building and was delighted to be invited to the launch. He was impressed with the final result, especially with the fact that its construction was undertaken by volunteers who were interested in sustainable buildings.
Congratulations and good luck in setting an example for other communities!