We are starting the new millennium with an increasing number of bioenergy initiatives and activities. Most of these new activities have been boosted by a combination of special conditions resulting from: increased public concern about climate change; higher international oil prices and new energy policies; and markets being deregulated almost everywhere.

When Tina Etherington and I launched the first modest issue of Forest Energy Forum in December 1997, it had few pages but many ideas to develop. We are now pleased and proud to see how effective our work has been and would like to thank you all for the many letters of support, contributions and good comments that we have received. However, we are always looking for ways to improve! Should you wish to suggest a subject for our Special Features section, or an area where you would like to see more coverage, please contact us. We would also like to make an appeal to our French-speaking colleagues for articles in French so that we can ensure a broader appeal.

The quantity of contributions has also increased and we are now covering a wider range of subjects than ever before. In this issue you can read contributions from Jim Richardson, Pentti Hakkila and Elizabeth Remedio on such hot topics as the utilization of conventional forestry systems for energy use, the recycling of nutrients and the socio-economic issues of bioenergy systems - areas to which we would like to return with more information in future issues.

These topics are some examples of the enormous possibilities for collaboration which were opened up with the Memorandum of Understanding signed by FAO and IEA Bioenergy in early 2000. We would also like to use our Forest Energy Forum newsletter and Web site as tools to disseminate the important work carried out so far by our two organizations. Thus, the next issue of FEF will include a regular feature covering the important activities of our colleagues at IEA Bioenergy. However, in the Special Features section of this issue you will find information on two IEA Bioenergy Tasks.

In this issue you will also find information on the activities initiated with the EC-FAO Partnership Programme on the Wood Energy Planning and Policy Development component for African, Latin American and Caribbean countries. These activities will not only improve the national capabilities concerning wood energy information systems for the development of more sustainable wood energy strategies, but will also contribute to and complement those of sustainable forest management. These initiatives, in addition to those already well established with the Regional Wood Energy Development Programme (RWEDP) in Asia, make for quite an ambitious programme to promote the bioenergy initiative.

Our Wood Energy Programme has also grown over the years. Professor Elizabeth Remedio from the University of San Carlos, the Philippines, has taken a year's sabbatical and joined us in February 2000 as a Visiting Scientist under FAO's Academic Programme. Shortly after her arrival, Ms Suzuko Tanaka, from Japan, joined us an Associate Professional Officer (APO) to work on a socio-economic analysis of bioenergy systems and bioenergy, climate change and livelihoods. Ms Sandra Rivero, from Argentina, has been working with us on a consultancy basis for the past two years, and it is through her efforts that we have managed to produce three working documents in the Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT) series. Consultant Mr Rudi Drigo, from Italy, has been fully involved in the preparation of the regional workshop organized within the framework of the EC-FAO Partnership Programme [see the first of our Special Features]. In addition, in 1999-2000 our Wood Energy Programme has benefited from the enthusiasm of Ms Hazme Akyol and Ms Maryam Teherani, two graduates from the Swedish Volunteer Programme. Finally, our Web site has been completely revamped thanks to the work of our Web consultant Mr Marco Perri, from Italy.

The year 2000 was one of travel, with participation in many very interesting meetings. I hope that 2001 will be as stimulating.

In conclusion, at the start of the millennium FEF now has more pages, more contributors - and more readers. The topics covered have increased and now include the regular section "Forests branch off ...", covering a wide range of climate change issues and other very important topics that are expected to contribute to a greener and more sustainable energy order.

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