Heating with wood is by no means environmentally benign. Much depends on where it is sourced from and how it is burned. But from urban forestry waste becoming woodchip fuel to a network of decentralized small-scale firewood producers, we have seen plenty of ways in which firewood can be sourced without putting pressure on existing woodland. Now here's a neat idea from Permaculture Magazine in the UK—Conservation charities are encouraging volunteers to help manage and thin woodlands, and they are encouraging those volunteers with the promise of cheap wood fuel:
Three years ago following a lot of help from the East Devon AONB team and the Forestry Commission, a small group set up Axewoods, a woodfuel consumer co-operative in East Devon with permission to work woodland owned by the National Trust. To date we have two working clusters in two woodlands, six chainsaw operators and forty or so members of the cooperative. We host open days for families and nippers, we support forest schools but more directly we bridge the gap between those wanting to work in the woods and woodlands in need of work. In return anyone who joins the coop and contributes to what we’re doing is able to source woodfuel at a fraction of the open market price.