Given the importance of woodfuels in providing energy for both traditional and modern industries, as well as their relevance in forestry, energy and rural development contexts, woody biomass is an important resource that, when sustainably managed, can have positive impacts on the environment, forests, social and economic development.
To promote this process, the Forestry Department of FAO is broadening and disseminating knowledge and information on wood energy aspects and actively collaborating with member countries in the development and implementation of tools supporting wood energy planning and policy formulation.
One such tool is the Woodfuel Integrated Supply / Demand Overview Mapping (WISDOM), a spatially-explicit method for assessing woodfuel sustainability and supporting wood energy planning through the integration and analysis of existing consumption and production-related information.
Within the framework of the Project “Supply and Utilization of Bioenergy to Promote Sustainable Forest Management”, TCP/SVN/2901, implemented by the Government of Slovenia and supported by FAO, the WISDOM methodology was applied in order to acquire the knowledge base necessary to formulate national wood energy strategies that would also correspond with the criteria for Slovenia’s entry into the European Union.
As on previous occasions, with the integration of spatial and statistical information from various sectors, the WISDOM approach proved to be an efficient way to boost understanding of wood energy and to provide useful elements for the formulation of new strategies.
Prior to project implementation, a holistic approach to the wood energy sector was lacking. Existing information was fragmented and failed to provide a coherent appreciation of the sector’s relevance in the context of both forestry and energy. The WISDOM approach allowed for the reconciliation and consolidation of forestry data with data from other sectors, and, with limited additional data collection, produced a coherent vision of the status and potential of wood energy in Slovenia, summarized in the Slovenia Wood Energy Information System (SWEIS). This study brought new awareness of the opportunities offered by wood energy and sharply enhanced the capacities of the Forest Service to cope with the challenges of planning and providing information to stakeholders, as well as the public at large
The value of the WISDOM and SWEIS analyses was evident in the actions undertaken by the Slovenia Forest Service and Slovenia Forestry Institute shortly after project completion. These follow-up actions included the development of a tailored WISDOM analysis for five municipalities interested in developing pellet production and district heating systems; the formulation of a national wood energy strategy within the National Forestry Programme and the National Programme for Rural Development; and the preparation of the Slovenian Wood Biomass internet portal that provides state-of-the-art information on all aspects of wood energy in Slovenia.
Another important outcome of the Project is that the Slovenian Government is now playing a catalytic role in promoting similar activities in other countries of East and Central Europe, alongside regionally coordinated activities proposed by the Forestry Department of FAO. To boost the process, the Slovenian Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, in collaboration with FAO, hosted an international workshop, “Development of Woody Biomass for Energy in Central and Eastern European Countries”, which was held in Bled, Slovenia, in November 2005, with the participation of delegates from twelve countries of the sub-region.
Forest Products and Economics Division