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Conclusions and Recommendations

The organizers feel that the scope of presenting the Wood Energy Component, its objectives and activities was successfully met and accepted with much interest by the participants of both national agencies and international organizations and projects. Most participants shared the same concern expressed by FAO/EC on the wood-energy sector in Africa and welcomed the specific objectives of the wood-energy component, clearly expressing the willingness to participate in its activities. The participants showed great interest in, and respect for, the considerable work carried out so far by FAO to collect, harmonize, review and report on existing wood-energy information in Africa. The comparison of various national and international data sources highlighted the general problem of poor data reliability and consistency, and this was well accepted and recognized as a key issue.

The participants' evaluation of the workshop, reported in Annex V, was positive on all main aspects, including the relevance of the objectives, quality of presentations and material provided, logistics, accommodation, administration, etc. Some improvements that were suggested include:

a) to give more emphasis to information sharing within the countries; and
b) to invite, on future occasions, two delegates from each country, one from the supply side (forestry institutions) and one from the demand side (energy institutions).

The presentation of regional and country studies, together with the documents previously prepared by the organizers; the results of the individual questionnaire prepared by all the participants; and the outcome of the working group discussions (Annex IV) were instrumental in carrying out an in-depth analysis of national capabilities and in defining priorities for action, as summarized in the sections below.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The meeting concluded that wood-energy systems were site-specific and complex. In addition, the multidisciplinary and inter-sectoral character of wood-energy systems often represented a limitation to the acquisition of political relevance and to the formulation of efficient solutions. The workshop identified the following critical aspects and issues that would deserve attention by all stakeholders directly and indirectly involved in the implementation of WEPP activities.

Wood-energy information systems

The workshop stressed that reliable and properly analysed wood-fuel information was crucial for the development of sustainable and efficient wood-energy systems. Existing wood energy information systems needed to be improved. It was recognized that they were a useful instrument to show to policy and decision-makers the roles they played for the well-being of people living in both rural and urban areas. It was agreed that wood-energy information could assist in the identification, formulation, evaluation and implementation of activities for the development of more sustainable wood-energy systems. Specifically, the following aspects were prioritized:

Wood-energy scenarios analysis and modelling. The capability to analyse wood-fuel data, develop models and make projections was considered a crucial issue, even more important so than the availability of data per se. It was felt that even the limited available information was not properly used for sector planning due to poor analytical capabilities. WEPP should assist national counterparts in the introduction of new methodological approaches and tools for planning sound wood-energy systems.

Reliable wood energy databases. The workshop considered that frequent and reliable wood-fuel consumption estimates should be conveniently disaggregated between rural and urban users. Lower priority was given to the differentiation between household and industrial users.

It was recognized that a great part of the wood-energy demand was met by wood fuels derived from non-forest areas, but these resources were rarely, if ever, surveyed. Consequently, the collection of information on consumption data was considered more essential than data on different types of wood-fuel supply sources. This could reflect the perception that primary needs of human beings should be given the highest priority. However, information on wood-fuel supply sources, and specifically those from agricultural/private lands and from natural vegetation outside reserved forests and plantations, should receive adequate attention in order to assess their sustainability and impact. The workshop concluded that WEPP could make relevant contributions to improving existing national regional and international wood-energy databases.

Institutional linkages and coordination arrangements on wood energy aspects

It was admitted that wood energy was a multidisciplinary system with a great number of activities covered, among others, by forestry, energy and environmental agencies. The workshop concluded that the current institutional linkages and coordination arrangements of wood-energy aspects among stakeholders were very poor. This was caused by a number of factors, such as limited human resources and inadequate funds allocated for this task. The workshop felt that WEPP could do a significant contribution to overcoming the main problems and removing some barriers.

It was highlighted that, in spite of the fact that wood fuel provided most of the national energy requirements (at least for the household sector of both rural and urban areas), the sector was considered "poor business", with little attraction for capital investments and little promise of rich revenues. It was stressed that a number of factors, such as lack of financial appeal, unreliable statistics on wood energy and poor understanding of the roles played by wood energy in the different social and economic sectors of society, were the main causes for the insufficient attention given to wood energy in the national policies, strategies and programmes. In order to have a better understanding of the roles played by wood energy systems in the society and improve their contribution to sustainable forestry management plans, the following activities were recommended.

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