Wood energy information in Africa

The first regional workshop on Wood Energy Information Systems for Africa for English-speaking African countries took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 23 to 27 October 2000.

The meeting was organized by FAO's Wood Energy Programme, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and was attended by 26 participants from English-speaking African countries, i.e. Eritrea, the Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, the Sudan and Uganda. There were also a number of participants representing invited agencies and projects such as: African Academy of Sciences, the World Bank-RPTES project, SADC Forestry Sector Technical Coordination Unit (FSTCU), CIRAD-ForÍts, the regional FAO project AFRICOVER and the Istituto Agronomico per l'Oltremare. In addition, several UNEP staff members participated in the meeting, making presentations and comments during the sessions, as well as Mr Miguel Trossero (Senior Forestry Officer, Wood Energy) and Mr Rudi Drigo (Consultant) of FAO's Wood Energy Programme.

This was the first workshop to be organized within the framework of the Wood Energy Planning and Policy Development (WEPP) component of the project Sustainable Forest Management Programmes in African ACP Countries (GCP/RAF/354/EC), EC-FAO Partnership Programme.


The main aims of the workshop were to:

∑ present the wood energy component of the EC-FAO project Sustainable Forest Management in African ACP Countries (GCP/RAF/354/EC) to the main national focal points;

∑ carry out a diagnostic of the national capabilities for the collection, presentation and dissemination of woodfuel and wood energy statistical data and information;

∑ present the main results of activities already carried out; and

∑ discuss the main activities to be undertaken.

The meeting stressed that information and data on woodfuels and derived wood energy are vital issues for the development of sustainable forestry management schemes and the implementation of environmentally friendly energy options. It also noted that most national capabilities for the collection, collation, presentation and dissemination of woodfuel and wood energy statistical data and information are very weak and mostly unavailable.

The meeting recommended follow-up activities in order to:

∑ improve national wood energy statistics (provide follow-up to the national case and pilot studies already initiated);

∑ develop institutional links for the exchange of information and experiences at the national/regional levels (especially with those activities carried out by other project components, such as the outlook studies);

∑ promote wood energy planning activities; and

∑ establish appropriate wood energy strategies/policies, including the review and revision of existing legislation/policies addressing wood energy issues.

The workshop concluded by identifying the following Activities for Action:

i. The improvement of National wood energy statistics through the establishment of a harmonized framework of definitions and guidelines, improved woodfuel demand data quality and analysis, use of modern remote sensing and GIS tools for supply estimates, and improved supply estimates from agricultural/private lands. In addition, assistance and support should be provided for the follow-up of national case and pilot studies already initiated.

ii. The development of institutional links through the establishment of official institutional mechanisms (such as national steering committees involving the major stakeholders) and the creation of adequate frameworks for the exchange of information and experiences (such as a network of national, regional and international wood energy experts and national wood energy Web sites).

iii. The promotion of wood energy planning activities at the national/regional levels by raising awareness at different levels (policy-makers, main players, etc.) and through the development of projections/outlooks for planning purposes.

iv. The establishment of appropriate wood energy strategies/policies through the review and revision of the legislation/policies addressing wood energy issues, and dissemination of sustainable practices on the transformation and use of wood energy.

v. The dissemination of current FAO work/results through the wide distribution of, and information on, the documents produced by this project, and through Web site accessibility. Each country should then review the data available at the country level in order to define new best estimates, where relevant, to replace those currently available in FAO statistics. Official focal points should be established to interact with this FAO process of wood energy activities and close interrelations with other project components should be maintained.

The meeting recommended that:

∑ African countries should institutionalize wood energy planning tasks with all the implied activities (data management, projections, planning, action plans, etc.); and

∑ FAO, international organizations and countries should further assist with concrete programmes and funds for:

In conclusion, the meeting's activities were carried out smoothly and as planned and presentations and debates took place in a good atmosphere of maximum participation and cooperation. The participants from invited organizations played a major role and showed their appreciation of the importance of the subject presented and discussed and offered to work together in future initiatives that are organized by the WEPP component.

The FAO Representation in Nairobi and the FAO Regional and Subregional Offices for Africa gave considerable support and help during the implementation of all the activities and contributed with their views and comments during the various meeting sessions. (Extracted from: Travel report of Miguel Trossero and Rudi Drigo [Consultant], Wood Energy Programme, FAO.)

Collaboration between FAO's forest energy activities and IEA Bioenergy

IEA Bioenergy Task 18 - Conventional Forestry Systems for Bioenergy

Natural forestry systems and plantations can be a source of bioenergy as well as other more conventional forest products. This is the focus of the Task on Conventional Forestry Systems for Bioenergy under the auspices of IEA Bioenergy. The objective of this international collaborative Task, which has been under way since 1998, is to develop systems and guidelines for environmentally sustainable and economic production of biomass for energy from conventional forestry systems. It also aims at promoting the acceptance of these systems and guidelines, as well as their use in relation to silviculture, forest management, harvesting and transportation.

For the past three years, the Task has been developing and synthesizing information needed to design or implement sustainable forest management and harvesting systems for the production of biomass for energy in conjunction with other forest products. Under the overarching theme of sustainability, Task collaborators evaluate criteria related to productivity, environment, social concerns, economics, and legal and institutional issues, within the context of plantations and naturally regenerated forests in key forest regions of member countries. These criteria are common to the international processes defining sustainable forest management, such as the Montreal Process.

The primary end users for Task outputs are forest managers, researchers and bioenergy planners, but the same outputs will also be useful for policy-makers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the interested public. The collaborators envisage that, through their efforts, integrated assessments of forest management practices, environmental conditions and socio-economic factors can and will improve productivity, forest health and efficient utilization of forest resources, including biomass for energy, from plantations and naturally regenerated forests in the major forest biomes.

Eleven countries - Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States - and the European Commission are participating in the Task. A national team leader appointed by each country coordinates the participation of that country. A five-member team leads the Task, with members from Canada, Finland, New Zealand and the United States.

The programme of the conventional forestry Task includes the development and production of a major synthesis publication, the organization of annual workshops and field study tours, communication and promotional activities, and cooperation with other groups, including FAO's Wood Energy Programme.

The most important Task output will be a publication that synthesizes available ecological, physical, operational, social and economic information, and identifies gaps in knowledge related to biomass production and harvesting systems. [See the following report for a description of this publication.]

The primary means of achieving the Task goals and outputs is a series of annual workshops, involving invited and volunteer scientific and technical experts who present papers, contribute to assessments and discussions and lead field study tours. Case studies of successful applications of sustainable forest management for increased ecosystem productivity, forest health and efficient utilization of forest resources, including biomass for energy, are examined. The formal workshop proceedings are published and distributed internationally.

The proceedings of the first Task workshop, which took place in Nokia, Finland, in September 1998, were published in the Forest Research Bulletin series of the New Zealand Forest Research Institute. This publication includes a total of 27 invited and volunteer papers, seven of which were from a joint workshop session that was held with IEA Bioenergy Task 25 Greenhouse Gas Balances of Bioenergy Systems. The proceedings of the second annual Task workshop, held in Charleston, South Carolina, United States, in September 1999, have been published as a special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science. More than 20 papers from the workshop are included.

The final Task workshop and field study tour was held in New South Wales, Australia, in October 2000, with an associated field tour in South Island, New Zealand. The proceedings of this workshop will also be published as a special issue of the New Zealand Journal of Forestry Science.

Communication of the Task's goals, activities and outputs is a vital element of the promotional aspect of the Task. A strong presence for the Task has been established and is being actively maintained on the Internet, through the main IEA Bioenergy Web site (www.ieabioenergy.com). Most informational materials are made available through this site. In addition, the Task publishes a series of Technical Notes, intended primarily to communicate to forest managers and practitioners valuable practical information emerging from Task activities.

Several other organizations and IEA Bioenergy Tasks have objectives and interests that are complementary to those of Task 18. Strong links are maintained with these groups through sharing of information and, where possible, joint workshops and other activities. FAO's Wood Energy Programme is one such group with which the Task is actively collaborating.

The Conventional Forestry Systems for Bioenergy Task, also known as IEA Bioenergy Task 18, ends officially on 31 December 2000. It will be immediately succeeded by a new three-year Task on Conventional Forestry Systems for Sustainable Production of Bioenergy. The objective will be to synthesize and transfer to stakeholders important knowledge and new technical information concerning conventional forestry systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy.

The successor Task will give a new direction to the programme. Like the previous one, it will encompass natural forestry systems and single-stem plantation systems which can provide a source of biomass for energy. Its scope will be worldwide, although focusing primarily on boreal and temperate forest regions. Efforts will be made to expand activities to include developing countries. The work will include sharing of research results, stimulation of new research directions in the national programmes of participating countries, and technology transfer from science to resource managers, planners and industry. The emphasis will be on an integrated approach to the biological, economic, environmental and social components of forestry systems. Multidisciplinary partnerships of key stakeholders in forest biomass production research, planning and operations will be fostered.

A primary focus of the work programme will continue to be annual workshops and field study tours in order to share scientific and technical information, and the proceedings will be published. Silvicultural and forest management systems offering opportunities for biomass recovery for energy will be studied, including different stand treatments, mixed stand management and expanded utilization. Guidelines for forest operations to enable cost-efficient and environmentally acceptable recovery of biomass for energy and conventional forest products will be developed. Collaborators will assess the sustainability of production systems through forest ecosystem research focused on nutrient cycling and wood ash recycling, carbon sequestration, stand productivity and soil and water conservation.

Most important, new knowledge and technical information will be transferred to stakeholders. In large measure, it is expected to accomplish this through an innovative, Web-based, interactive electronic information system, based on the book to be published in 2001. Other transfer tools will include technical seminars and technical newsletters.

Most of the countries participating in the present Task are also expected to join the new Task and four of the five members of the Task leadership team will remain in place. (Contributed by: Mr J. Richardson, Ontario, Canada.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Jim Richardson, 1876 Saunderson Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 2C5.
Fax: +1 613 521 1997;

e-mail: jrichardson@on.aibn.com

Copies of Task publications may be obtained from:

Ms Alison Lowe, New Zealand Forest Research Institute Ltd, Private Bag 3020, Rotorua, New Zealand.

Fax: +64 7 348 0952;

e-mail: alison.lowe@forestresearch.co.nz

Bioenergy from sustainable forestry: guiding principles and practices

During the period 1998-2000, IEA Bioenergy Task 18 Conventional Forestry Systems for Bioenergy has been developing and synthesizing information needed to design or implement sustainable forest management systems for the production of biomass for energy in conjunction with other forest products. One result of these efforts will be a major publication. Under the overarching theme of sustainability, Task collaborators have evaluated productivity-related, environmental, social, economic, legal and institutional criteria, within the context of plantation and naturally regenerated forests in key forest regions of member countries. These criteria are common to the several international processes defining sustainable forest management, such as the Montreal Process.

The forests of the world represent a vast potential source of sustainable raw material for energy. This energy is in principle almost neutral with regard to balances of greenhouse gases that are implicated in global climate change. Although, at least in the boreal and temperate forest regions, this potential remains largely untapped, there are several important current developments which are likely to increase significantly the use of biomass for energy from plantations and naturally regenerated forests. Bioenergy, as one of the renewable energy forms, is receiving greater emphasis in many countries as a means of improving carbon balances and mitigating global climate change. There have been several recent announcements and policy decisions in this regard, including the Executive Order and accompanying Executive Memorandum of President Clinton of August 1999, setting a goal of tripling United States use of bio-based products and bioenergy by 2010. [See also Forest Energy Forum No. 5.] A European Community White Paper foresees a doubling of the use of renewables in European Union countries by 2020 and, within that, a tripling of bioenergy use. Such developments could entrain significant environmental and socio-economic problems unless the management of the implicated plantations and naturally regenerated forests is on a truly sustainable basis.

The primary output of Task 18 will be a publication that synthesizes available ecological, physical, operational, social and economic information, and identifies gaps in knowledge related to biomass production and harvesting systems. The book, entitled Bioenergy from sustainable forestry: guiding principles and practices, will be published by Kluwer Academic Publishers in 2001. It is organized around the criteria for sustainable forest management: productivity, environment, social issues, economics, and the legal and institutional framework. The scale of resolution for the information is primarily at the "forest region" level. Site-specific data or case studies are used to highlight important information or exceptions. Efforts are also made to provide information or interpretations on generalized principles that span forest regions, such as effects of management on soil carbon. The publication will be useful for regional or global modelling applications.

It will also enable forest resource managers and planners to evaluate the ability of specific forest regions to meet bioenergy production demands in a sustainable way. For some criteria, this process may require specifying scenarios and assumptions related to demands for bioenergy production capacity. The book emphasizes guiding principles and state-of-the-art knowledge in a concise and distilled form, rather than trying to provide a detailed "how-to" handbook covering every possible situation. More than 25 international experts from seven countries have contributed.

The book is one of the first steps in the efforts to promote sustainable practices for forest energy production; the material prepared for it will also become the basis for an innovative, Web-based, interactive electronic information system that is to be developed over the next three years. This will expand the general idea of the synthesis publication and help practitioners tailor the concepts of sustainability to their individual situations.

For further information on this publication, please contact:
Mr Jim Richardson, 1876 Saunderson Drive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1G 2C5.

Fax: +1 613 521 1997;

e-mail: jrichardson@on.aibn.com

IEA Bioenergy Task 29 - Socio-economic Aspects of Bioenergy Systems

A report entitled Modelling Socio-economic Aspects of Bioenergy Systems: a survey prepared for IEA (International Energy Agency) Bioenergy Task 29 has been prepared by Reinhard Madlener (Institute for Advanced Studies and Scientific Research, Carinthia, Austria) and Hayley Myles (DULAS Ltd, United Kingdom). The first version of this report was presented during a workshop of the VI World Renewable Energy Congress, held in Brighton, United Kingdom on 2 July 2000.

One of the aims of IEA Bioenergy Task 29 is to be able to identify and quantify socio-economic and environmental impacts of bioenergy production systems. In that way, any resulting net regional gains can be used as information to promote further bioenergy. Initially, 11 models were discussed. A brief description of each model follows.

∑ ABM (Austrian Biomass Model) was developed for a bioenergy study in Austria and was carried out by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research and partners.

∑ BEAM (Bioenergy Assessment Model) was an IEA project in 1992. Originally, the project aimed at a computer-based model to compare various biomass production processes and conversion systems.

∑ BIOCOST is a production cost model developed within the Biofuels Feedstock Development Program at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee, United States. This programme was launched in 1978 by the United States Department of Energy.

∑ BIOSEM (Biomass Socio-Economic Multiplier) was a two-year project that started in January 1997 under the FAIR Programme of DG IV under the European Commission's Fifth Framework Programme. A quantitative economic model to capture the income and employment effects arising from the deployment of bioenergy plants in rural communities was the main objective.

∑ ELVIRE (Evaluation of Local Value Impacts for Renewable Energy) model is an evaluation tool for developing projects involving renewable energies. It has been developed by FEDARNE's working group on renewable energies and some of its member agencies, with support from the ALTENER programme.

∑ ExternE (Externalities of Energy) was a project launched by the European Commission in 1991 in collaboration with the United States Department of Energy. It was the first comprehensive effort to evaluate the external costs associated with a range of different fuel cycles.

∑ INSPIRE (Integrated Spatial Potential Initiative for Renewables in Europe) was a project aimed at linking renewable energy resource mapping with economic and life cycle analysis modelling (based on the geographic information system [GIS]).

∑ RECAP (Renewable Energy Crop Analysis Programme) was developed by ETSU on behalf of the United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry. It is a computer model of biomass-to-energy systems designed to assess the financial feasibility of any biomass project using either dedicated energy crops or other biomass sources.

∑ RETSCREEN contains a pre-feasibility computer-based analysis tool. The model is intended to be a project assessment tool for renewable energy technologies (RETs). It considers the energy performance, costs and financial viability of potential RET projects.

∑ SAFIRE is a database and a computer model that provides policy- and decision-makers with a tool to evaluate the market and impact of new energy technologies and policies. The SAFIRE project is being supported by the Commission of the European Communities' Directorate-General for Research and Development (DG XII) under the Joule II Programme.

∑ I/O models means mainstream Input-Output models. I/O analysis is primarily an economic theory with practical applications. In this context, I/O analysis is used to provide estimates of jobs generated with respect to either monetary or energy units. It is highly dependent upon the availability of comprehensive regional data.

The survey concluded that, after the review, most of the models do not really provide accurate quantification of employment generated, regional economic development and CO2 saved from the use of bioenergy. The models are essentially techno-economic models; however, the survey recognized that socio-economic models are, after all, project-led. Very often, the exact impact of any bioenergy development is dependent upon area-based technology, feedstock and goods and services found in the said area. (Contributed by: Elizabeth Remedio, Visiting Scientist, Wood Energy Programme, FAO.)

Bioenergy, poverty and rural development nexus

Poverty is undeniably among the world's most basic and most urgent issues. Hunger is the single most important manifestation of poverty. It is remarkable that from the energy perspective, poverty has received so little attention. Energy is central to the satisfaction of basic nutritional and health needs; energy services make up a huge share of total household expenditure in less developed countries (LDCs).

Attributes and impediments

Biomass resources possess a number of qualities, which merit the utmost consideration: availability, sustainability, global and local environmental benefits, rural development and entrepreneurial opportunities, increased recognition of their current role and potential contribution as a modern fuel, and recent significant technological advances.

∑ inadequate political, financial and institutional support;

∑ energy departments and energy staff in LDCs tend to focus on electricity and fossil fuels only, ignoring traditional fuels such as bioenergy - this is due to the lack of understanding, limited up-to-date information (especially in the agricultural and forestry sectors), e.g. greenhouse gas issues related to tree growth and bioenergy use;

∑ insufficient funding for research, development and demonstration;

∑ exclusion of external costs and the non-monetary benefits in economic evaluations of energy that place biomass energy on an unequal footing compared with conventional energy sources;

∑ the varied and sometimes unpredictable nature of biomass energy sources/uses;

∑ the perception that land availability could be a problem since bioenergy production may compete with food production;

∑ market forces: in many LDCs bioenergy, especially woodfuels, is still obtained free of charge or at low cost, offering little incentive to improve energy efficiency or to find alternative energy sources unless they can be provided on an equal delivered-cost basis. Thus, in many LDCs, biomass fuel efficiency has not been a primary concern. Non-energy factors, such as convenience, matter more;

∑ lack of reliable data on country, regional and global use. This also stems from the fact that biomass energy in its traditional form is difficult to quantify.

Bioenergy in LDCs from a globalization outlook

The onset of the information technology should directly benefit rural development and poverty alleviation measures among LDCs. International organizations and governments should take bold, intentional and decisive steps to improve data and information campaigns, for capacity building towards sustainable, efficient and market-oriented production and for use of biomass energy resources. To facilitate the introduction and promotion of bioenergy, a number of ideas collated from various sources are:

∑ assist the establishment of proper institutions that will develop and improve bioenergy policy. High-level decision-makers, energy planning bodies and local institutions concerned should be made aware of their roles in implementing bioenergy programmes;

∑ improve capacity building in bioenergy management skills, taking the maximum advantage of local knowledge and encourage multidisciplinary approaches;

∑ provide financial incentives for using bioenergy to utilities and local entrepreneurs;

∑ provide capital and credit to encourage commercial activities;

∑ direct research, development and demonstration in the most promising biomass areas in order to improve supply and technological efficiencies;

∑ learn from past lessons and experiences to assist policy-makers with well-informed recommendations as to environmental acceptability and sustainability of bioresources at the local and regional levels;∑ consider socio-economic aspects of bioenergy;
∑ improve market opportunities and conditions for potential suppliers and supplies for potential markets.

(Source: The role of agriculture in the development of LDCs and their integration in the globalizing world economy - the bioenergy perspective, a paper prepared by Elizabeth Remedio [Visiting Scientist, Wood Energy Programme, FAO] for the Third United Nations Conference on LDCs.)

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