How a boiler is saving the forest in Galway

Introducing Esther

One of our partners in Ireland introduces her eco-friendly wood stove and her initiatives to restore the lost acres of Irish forests. Here is how:

Esther's eco-friendly guesthouse opened 30 years ago in Galway, Ireland. Already at that time, sustainability and nature were at the heart of her project. In 2012, she dismantled the original wooden house to build the eco-friendly guesthouse we know today, equipped with an organic kitchen. The building is a perfect example of what a functional and comfortable sustainable building looks like. For example, the guesthouse boasts many windows, allowing natural light to flood in and to reduce electricity consumption. What´s more, an efficient wastewater system called “Puraflo” allows for low water consumption on site. A biomass boiler was also added to the guesthouse in 2018 after 5 years of cost saving.

By burning wood, this state-of-the-art boiler can heat the 800 square metre guesthouse, as well as the eco lodges, the glamping hut, the meeting room, the changing room of the riding school, the toilets and even a classroom. The boiler itself was manufactured by HDG Bavaria GmbH in Austria and has an EU energy rating of A+. The fuel tank has an impressive capacity of 220 litres and is connected to 3 large insulated storage tanks which can store up to 900 litres of 90° water!

While Esther still has a traditional oil boiler as a back-up, she aims at reducing the dependence on fossil fuels by 80-100% thanks to the HDG Euro 50. The wood used to operate the boiler is bought from Coillte, the largest private forestry company in Ireland. Using tree logs for heating is very interesting sustainably speaking because it is a renewable resource. The variety used, the Sitka Spruce, grows in fact very quickly and is replanted directly after the logging. It is also grown in the nearby forests so that there is almost no the impact on maritime transport.

Recovering the lost forest
Speaking of timber, the history of forestry in Ireland is quite fascinating. Ireland used to be one of the most forested countries in all of Europe, mainly with oak and pine trees. However, centuries of deforestation mainly due to land clearing, industrial processes and English intervention meant that by the end of the 19th century only 1% of the country's total area was still covered with forests.

Now that Ireland is a member of the EU, it has received some European funds to increase its forest cover. Currently, Ireland has a total forest area of about 723,982 hectares, which corresponds to 10.5% of the national area, of which 43% is privately owned. The target is to increase the forest area in the country to 17% by 2030.

Stay at Esther’s eco-friendly guesthouse to explore more than 810 hectares of Coillte forest and see this renewable resource in action. You will get to see all the stages of development of trees, by exploring protected areas, harvesting areas and forest stands. Each day you can explore a different part on horseback, on foot or by bike!