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1.1. Characteristics of Woodfuel
1.2. Policy Areas
1.3. The Present Study

1.1. Characteristics of Woodfuel

Virtually all countries in South and Southeast Asia are major woodfuel consumers and producers. At present, some 39% of the total energy consumption in the developing countries of the region consists of wood and other biomass fuels, and in absolute terms the consumption is still increasing. Most woodfuels do not originate from natural forests but from agricultural and other land.

Unlike many other commodities, woodfuels are generally bound to local production and consumption centres and are largely not monetized. Production and consumption characteristics of woodfuels vary widely according to region or area, but a common and special characteristic is that many consumers are also producers of woodfuels, i.e. farmers and villagers. As a result, the market mechanisms for woodfuels may differ from those of many other commodities.

1.2. Policy Areas

Woodfuel development is considered an important subject for various sectoral policies, for instance:

· Forestry: To improve the management of tree and forest resources by villagers, including increasing the value added on-site through processing and marketing support;

· Energy: To develop renewable, indigenous sources of energy to contribute to diversification of the energy mix and self sufficiency in energy supply;

· Poverty Alleviation: To improve the livelihoods of rural people and those working in informal-sector activities by, for example, generating income and employment;

· Environment: To arrest the degradation of forest resources and other land use systems, through sustainable patterns of natural resource management and utilization, and to contribute to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

· National Economic Considerations: To make more productive uses of local (woodfuel) resources and provide an additional energy supply option for economic growth and development;

· Women: To create the opportunity for women to play an important role in planning and implementation of wood energy programmes and strategies.

1.3. The Present Study

The present study has been prepared by RWEDP at the request of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission. The study first addresses a number of misconceptions which commonly prevail with respect to wood, energy matters (Chapter 2), and summarizes present views countervailing the old "fuelwood gap theory" (Chapter 3).

Next, some selected data on current fuelwood production and consumption are presented (Chapter 4). The document proceeds with a discussion of wood energy consumption patterns (Chapter 5) and woodfuel supply policies (Chapter 6), leading to a number of recommended actions.

Estimates of future wood energy consumption are presented in Chapter 7 and balancing demand with biomass supply potential is dealt with in Chapter 8 which contains a quantitative outlook, based on best available data, up to the year 2010. The implications of woodfuel use for global warming are addressed in Chapter 9. Finally, the main conclusions and recommendations are presented in Chapter 10.

In Annex 1, wood and biomass energy data in the Asia-Pacific region are summarized, and Annex 2 shows the relationships between published fuelwood production and population figures.

It should be emphasized that the present document is based on currently available information which, however, is not a truly satisfactory basis for quantitative forecasts. RWEDP is continuing the process of collecting and analysing data on wood energy and related issues.

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