Wood energy constitutes a major source of energy in most countries, both developing and developed, and its contribution is expected to grow in the future as a result of the application of stricter environmental regulations and the use of more competitive sources of locally-available energy. Although FAO collects and presents statistical data and information on fuelwood and charcoal in its Forest Products Yearbook, this data needs improvement, disaggregation and better presentation.
FAOs wood energy initiatives have included, within its current regular programme activities, the development of an improved woodfuel and wood energy data base. This initiative is being carried out through different complementary approaches, mechanisms and activities, one of which is Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow.
Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT) collects, reviews and collates existing information and data on wood fuels and its related energy aspects at national level through the preparation of "regional studies". The main aim of these studies is to overcome the shortcomings encountered in the main wood energy databases and to fill the main data gaps. New and improved wood energy data will contribute to (a) determine how, where and how much wood fuel is used in different countries and regions; (b) describe the contribution of forests, wood lands and trees to the energy sector; (c) assess the environmental impacts; and (d) identify the main critical problem areas to be tackled for the development of sustainable wood energy systems.
It is also expected that the development of improved wood energy data will contribute to the better understanding of wood energy systems and to the planning of more sustainable production and utilization.
In addition, WETT will constitute an essential source of information for forest resource assessments, improved forest products statistics, outlook studies and the valuation of forests. Other studies are also being carried out by the FAO Forestry Department as part of the periodic assessment of the state of forest resources and for the presentation of the best available statistics on forest products world-wide which contributes to the understanding of the multidisciplinary role of forests, woodlands and trees and enables the planning of a more sustainable forest management together with the promotion of "greener" and more environmentally friendly energy systems.
This regional study presents an overview of the total wood energy consumption in 42 European and OECD countries based on information available in selected international organizations and makes recommendations for further improvements of Wood Energy Information Systems.