University of Kent signs deal to turn coppiced trees into biofuel

The University of Kent’s Estates Department has signed a deal that will see trees coppiced from its Canterbury campus grounds sent to a biomass plant to be converted to energy.

The deal, signed with Euroforest, will see trees felled taken to a biomass plant in Sandwich and converted to energy used to provide power to locations in Kent, such as the nearby Discovery Park.

All profits made from the sale of the coppiced wood will be reinvested and used for other sustainability initiatives taking place at the University.

The University’s Grounds team began implementing the woodland management plan in the winter of 2015/16 by coppicing a number of sections of Bluebell Wood. This was followed up in 2016 in Brotherhood Wood and in winter 2017 in Parkwood Wood.

Coppicing increases the structural and compositional diversity of a woodland by opening up the canopy to provide varying light levels and encouraging a range of different aged trees in the woodland.  This encourages growth of different species of flora on the woodland floor which, in turn, attracts a wider range of fauna increasing the overall biodiversity of the area.

The move is part of the wider commitment to sustainability at Kent led by its Estates Department. Earlier in March the University signed a pledge to adhere, wherever possible, to the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in both its operations and its curriculum.

Furthermore, it continues to increase its efforts on waste reduction and recycling, with 2,315 tonnes of waste diverted from landfill in the 2016-17 academic year, equivalent to 210 Tyrannosaurus-Rex. The University has also cut carbon emissions by 16% since 2005.