Why Forest Energy Forum? The motivations are many. First, we want to offer our readers and colleagues a new quick and direct source of information on wood energy. Second, we wish to establish a simple mechanism for dialogue (south-south and north-south), which is the reason why we have adopted the word "forum" for this newsletter. We hope that through Forest Energy Forum readers from different disciplines and sectors concerned with wood energy can express their views and disseminate their experiences for the benefit of their wood energy colleagues and also their community in general.

Why forest energy ? Because we consider that the terminology currently used, such as fuelwood, does not represent the whole variety of fuels which can be derived from forest biomass. Furthermore, since our Wood Energy Programme (in collaboration with other organizations) is engaged in the review and harmonization of the terms and definitions used for bioenergy, we believe that this is a good opportunity to establish the new term forest energy, which fits and better represents the present situation. Forest energy (or "dendroenergy" – the term currently used in Latin America) includes all the fuels (solid, liquid and gaseous) derived from forests and trees for their utilization as primary or secondary fuels (i.e. charcoal) for the generation of thermal, electric and/or mechanical energy.

The materialization of these ideas has led us to forfeit our Energy Corner in Non-Wood News and to create a sister newsletter, Forest Energy Forum, with which we hope to achieve the above-mentioned objectives and through which we wish to reach all our readers and colleagues in the sector while building a multisectoral dialogue between the different actors from all the disciplines in the wood energy field.

The findings derived from our publications and studies, among which is Wood energy today for tomorrow (WETT), show that wood energy continues to make a large contribution to the energy sector and is a vital ingredient in meeting the energy needs of millions of people in developing countries. However, the most relevant factor is that there is increased interest in wood energy from the industrial and commercial sectors of developed countries because it is renewable, competitive and environmentally friendly.

In fact, nowadays there are different initiatives for new projects, offers of novel technologies and technical assistance within the forestry and agro-industrial sectors where wood fuels alone, and/or combined with by-products derived from their production processes, are becoming an attractive source of thermal and/or electrical energy, and any surpluses can be sold to the energy market as another commodity with benefits for all involved. The case of two Nicaraguan sugar mills (which will be described in detail in the next issue of Forest Energy Forum) is a good example of the changes occurring in the sector. Such is the importance of this subject that it was the main item discussed during the meeting of the national coordinators of the Latin American Technical Cooperation Network on Dendroenergy, held in Cuba from 4 to 7 November 1997.

The use of forest fuels offers interesting synergies which make them a competitive source of energy, even with the present oil prices. But the many interrelations, both within and outside the forestry and energy sectors, constitute a complex system (sometimes not properly known) which hampers its massive utilization. Forest Energy Forum wishes to clarify these important interrelations in order to promote sustainable forest management.

The development of wood energy initiatives involves many disciplines, including the forestry and energy sectors, and the areas of climatic change and rural development. Unfortunately, good and effective channels of communication have not yet been developed, which is another drawback affecting the development of wood energy initiatives. With Forest Energy Forum we hope to create a constructive dialogue among the main actors of the different wood energy sectors and disciplines.

FAO, through the Wood Energy Programme of its Forestry Department, has been actively involved in this process for many decades. It has provided technical assistance to member countries for the promotion of sustainable production, equitable market structures and rational utilization of wood fuels as a renewable, locally available source of energy for use in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Through Forest Energy Forum, we are pleased to continue with our efforts and our modest contribution to the development of this old, but completely renovated, source which is gradually receiving the attention it deserves.

In this way, the experience shared with our colleagues of Non-Wood News, through its four issues published since 1994, is consolidated and expanded through Forest Energy Forum in the hope of reinforcing our contribution and making a new energy and forestry order that is more in tune with society’s needs – an aim we all desire.

We would like Forest Energy Forum to become a regular meeting point every six months. Meanwhile, we wish to maintain contact between one issue and the next. Please send your comments, ideas, new experiences, projects and information either through our Internet web page, or by E-mail, fax or simply by letter to the address below. We look forward to hearing from you!



M.A. Trossero
Senior Forestry Officer (Wood Energy)
Wood and Non-Wood Products
Utilization Branch
Forest Products Division
Forestry Department
FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla
00100 Rome, Italy.
Tel: +39-6-57054175
Fax: +39-6-57055618
E-mail: miguel.trossero@fao.org

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