Why is National Trust for Scotland charcoal special?

It's simple; every bag of this high-quality charcoal helps to conserve woodland cared for by the National Trust for Scotland.

As part of our role in managing woodland we clear non-native invasive species, such as Rhododendron ponticum, to create a more diverse ecosystem for wildlife allowing bees, butterflies and wildflowers to thrive. The cleared wood, as well as off-cuts from pruning, are recycled into this sustainable, additive-free, high-quality charcoal.

The majority of charcoal in the UK has been imported from hundreds of miles away, often from unsustainable sources and often contains additives that can alter the taste of food. Our trained rangers, garden staff and volunteers make this charcoal locally using traditional kilns. It's additive-free and never travels far so it's kind to the environment.

The story so far...

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Our charcoal making arose from the problem of what to do with vast quantities of Rhododendron ponticum we were clearing from woodlands at Brodick, on the Isle of Arran, and at Ben Lomond.

Rhododendron ponticum is a very invasive plant and spreads rapidly into adjacent unmanaged woodland and open ground, to eventually cover large areas.

When Rhododendron spreads into an area, it grows so densely that it shades out other plantlife, and prevents the seedlings of native plants from germinating. Its leaves and buds contain high levels of toxins, which make the plant unpalatable to grazing animals and most insects. All this means that an area dominated by Rhododendron can be uninhabitable desert for our native flora and fauna.

A more recent danger posed by Rhododendron is that is has been found to be readily infected with a destructive plant pathogen called Phytopthera ramorum, which can kill trees leading to its other name of "Sudden Oak Death".

To ensure natural woodland habitats are looked after for wildlife to live in, and future generations to enjoy, we are working to remove Rhododendron from all our woodland.

A solution in Charcoal Making
At Brodick, much of the Rhododendron timber generated by clearing was being sold as firewood, but staff decided to try making barbecue charcoal from some of the Rhododendron as an alternative.

This was very successful, and quickly taken up at Ben Lomond too, where it has been the main method of making use of the larger diameter Rhododendron since 2006.

We are also making charcoal from Beech at Killiecrankie, and in this case it is the smaller wood we are using for charcoal making, which is too small to be sold as logs.

Why is Trust Charcoal better than other BBQ fuels?
Not only is it great for cooking your food, but it’s also better in relation to its impact on the environment than many other fuels. And every purchase you make is helping to fund our vital conservation work.

All charcoal production creates pollution in the form of smoke and gases from the wood, so growing trees and cutting them down just to make charcoal is not the best use of that resource.

Trust charcoal is being made from wood which has to be cut out for habitat protection reasons, and which is difficult to put to uses other than charcoal making. By using it to make charcoal, rather than just burning it to get rid of it, we reduce pressure on other woodland and forest resources which are being used for charcoal production.

Where to buy?

Ben Lomond


Available from the ranger's office at
Ardess Lodge, Rowardennan, by Drymen
G63 0AR but we can also deliver locally.
Email benlomond@nts.org.uk
Call 0844 493 2217
Opening times No set times, please contact
us by email or phone.

Inverewe


Available from the Inverewe Visitor Centre
Inverewe Garden & Estate, Poolewe, Ross-shire IV22 2LG
Email Inverewe@nts.org.uk
Call 0844 493 2225
Opening times May: 9.30 – 17.30 (daily)
June, July & Aug: 9.30 – 18.00 (daily)
Sept: 9.30 – 17.00 (daily)
Oct: 10.00 – 16.00 (daily)

Brodick


Available from the Brodick Country Park Ranger
Centre and Brodick Castle Reception Centre
Brodick Country Park, Isle of Arran, KA27 8HY
Email goatfell@nts.org.uk
Call 0844 493 2154
Opening times 9am - 5pm

Killiecrankie


Available from the Killiecrankie Visitor Centre,
Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5LG
Email killiecrankie@nts.org.uk
Call 0844 493 2194
Opening times April –Oct 10-5.30 daily

Find out more about Trust properties producing charcoal