An interview with...

Malcolm Alston

Firewood Merchant

Date: 27 February 2006

Interviewed by:
Rebecca Oaks

Malcolm Alston is a firewood merchant who has lived in the A/S AONB for over 20 years. He began by getting contracts to coppice areas of Gait Barrows in 1985 when Tony Aldridge was the warden for the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC). Later when the NCC became English Nature, the restrictions of Health and Safety measures became too restrictive and there were problems with wood being pinched from the road side, he found alternative sources of timber. Malcolm built up a good business selling logs from his house in Arnside, experiencing problems with planning issues. However, after receiving support from the National Trust and English Nature and a petition from over 150 local people, planning permission was granted. He describes the wood business as 'good honest work, rewarding work. There was enough money to make it worthwhile, but it certainly wasn't easy'. 'I spent a lot of happy hours in the woods and sometimes when I was working on my own, I was never lonely. And yet I got a great deal of, I don't know satisfaction of coming on back with a trailer load of wood. Something that you could say that you know that was your day's work'. He now started a new venture, planting hardwood trees on a croft in Wester Ross. He is committed to helping the environment as he says 'a six and a half tonne oak tree will take three and a half tonne of carbon out of the atmosphere in it's lifetime. And therefore is working for our sustainability'.

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