January 2023 News from the Sawmill

Happy New Year from all of us.

We’re kicking off 2023 by releasing our first carbon audit report. We commissioned an analysis of the carbon footprint of our business, and we’re sharing the results with you today. Find out why.

This month, you can also feast your eyes on an exceptional rural renovation from Digg & Co. The company and its owner have transformed an old barn into an amazing family home, architect’s studio and five star accommodation for bats.

Discover what a Marteloscope is – and see how the 1% project is playing a part in supporting them. Plus, there’s still time to have your say on the England Wood Strategy.

Let’s go.

Greenhouse gas report – and the next steps

As part of our efforts to reduce the negative impact of our business activities, we’ve completed our first in-depth carbon audit, and today we’re publishing the results in full.

The process of collecting the data was slow and painstaking, but it did reveal some interesting insights. More importantly, it gave us accurate benchmark figures that we can use to reduce our emissions over the coming months.

So, are the final figures good or bad? Well, we could combine our emissions figures with those for sequestered carbon, to come up with a very marketable negative number, but that would be pure Greenwash. So we’re giving you the results, just as they are.

Take a look

Ash Barn and the Living Buildings Challenge

We’ve loved following the progress at Digg and Co’s ‘Ash Barn’ and studio over the past couple of years. It’s an amazing family home and studio workspace that asks ‘what does good look like?’.

In this article, architect and occupier, Toby Diggens, tells us the story of his ambitious endeavour, why he chose Brimstone ash, and what the Living Buildings Challenge is all about.

Toby says: “if we are demanding locally grown wood as architects and designers, it makes it possible for people who are actually managing those woods to gain a proper income”.

See the transformation

Darnaway marteloscope project

Have you heard of a martelescope? The name derives from the French word “martelage” meaning tree selection and the Greek word “skopein” meaning to watch.

Marteloscopes are plots of forest which are mapped for quality and biodiversity values. Or as Edward Wilson  from Silviculture Research International explains, they’re a place to “learn by doing. A venue to really hone the skills of practising foresters and introduce silvicultural concepts to non foresters”.

New marteloscopes at Darnaway in Scotland will be the first of their kind in the UK. And we’re delighted that the 1% Woodland Tax is playing a part in initiating this pioneering education and skills project. Take a look to see what it’s all about.

Learn more

Wood for the Trees on the radio

Tom and Charly’s ‘Wood for the Trees’ series hit the radio waves recently. Have a listen to Charly as she talks to Frome FM about their film project.

She said: “we started the series during the last election, when everyone was talking about trees. There are lots of reasons to plant trees, and there are ways of doing it well and doing it badly. We wanted to explore how it can be done well.”

Listen to the show here and head over to YouTube to watch the latest ‘Wood for the Trees’ episode which explains why we need more trees.

Listen now

Have your say on the National Wood Strategy for England

The National Wood Strategy for England (NWSE) will outline the necessary steps for increasing the nation’s wood production and utilisation, as well as benefits of productive forestry.

Our MD, Tom Barnes, and Andy Leitch of Confor are authoring the strategy as we speak.  They hope the document will change attitudes towards growing and harvesting trees for wood production – and encourage more use of homegrown wood.

The deadline for feedback on the document’s structure has passed, but comments will be considered for a few more weeks. Find out more on Tom’s blog, and email Tom@Vastern.co.uk with your comments.


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