LEADER support was used to exploit the potential of using large quantities of waste wood from landscape management as a renewable energy source.
In the area Meetjesland, large quantities of waste wood from landscape conservation were discarded outdoors or burned without energy recovery. At the same time the cost of landscape management and getting fuel for farms was increasing. This project looked at how these three factors could be aligned to deliver green economy benefits.
Part of the project was funded under LEADER along with Flemish and provincial grant support. In addition, a novel approach to sourcing funding was used. A foundation brought together around 25 different sponsors and partners who were interested to particpate in the project. A key action of the project was to buy a chipping machine. The machine is used for landscape works for about six months every year. During the remaining months it is used to process other waste wood. In addition, the project activities included an awareness campaign for providing information to farmers on the most appropriate use of hedgerow management for energy purposes.
The project helped enhance the conservation and management of the rural landscape in the area. This was achieved by providing economic benefits to farmers for maintaining their pollard willows and other woody hedgerows.
Around 25 farmers participated in the programme and their number is increasing.
An estimated 8 tonnes of CO2 savings per year are achieved per residential installation.
Generated new economic added value in rural communities. Several farmers and households now use wood chips for heating due to the economic benefits.
This was a small-scale pilot project that has helped to create awareness on the theme. Currently several similar initiatives are being taken to upscale the approach.