FAO’s Wood Energy Group, together with the Department of Science, Technology and Society, Utrecht University, Utrecht, the Netherlands, initiated the technical, economic, social and environmental analysis of "Combined heat and power generation from bagasse and eucalyptus by sugar mills in Nicaragua" within the framework of the FAO Academic Programme. [For more information on FAO’s Academic Programme, please see under Points of View.]

Mr Richard van den Broek, an Assistant in Education at Utrecht University, visited Nicaragua to undertake the study and has prepared a paper describing the initiatives of two Nicaraguan sugar mills to sell power to the national grid, during the sugar cane harvesting season with bagasse as its principal fuel and outside this season with eucalyptus grown as a dedicated energy crop. An ongoing research (cofinanced by FAO) aims at assessing the environmental, micro- and macro-economic impacts of this type of power generation. This paper contains detailed information and data regarding different micro- and macro-economic analyses of the combined use of fuelwood and bagasse as fuel for the generation of approximately 27 MW of electricity and a comparative evaluation with the use of fuel oil. The supply of fuelwood is assured by 5 000 ha of eucalyptus plantations.

Power generation based on dedicated energy crops is not only an attractive option for the future but, looking at ongoing negotiations to sell power from the sugar mills to the national grid, it also appears to be a suitable and competitive alternative in Nicaragua at the moment.

Mr van den Broek also visited Honduras and Cuba to explore the potential use of this technical solution in other sugar-producing countries.



While the European Union (EU) launched a White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan to double the share of renewable energy in the total EU energy balance by 2010 from the present 6 to 12 percent, the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework of the Convention on Climate Change met in Kyoto last December and adopted the Kyoto Protocol which aims to strengthen their countries’ commitments to reduce/mitigate GHG emissions which are assumed to be the main threat to climate change. The conference devised the Clean Development Mechanism to assist countries in achieving their quantified emission limitation established by the protocol.

The Clean Development Mechanism opens new opportunities for the development of forestry and wood energy initiatives as major mechanisms for carbon sequestration and substitution.

It is time to work together to promote and accomplish forest energy initiatives not only to modernize and make more sustainable the traditional use of woody biomass for energy purposes but also to develop industrial forest energy as a competitive, cost-effective and environmentally friendly source of energy.




A treaty aimed at heading off a potentially catastrophic warming of the earth was formally adopted on Thursday after 11 days of frenetic debate that repeatedly threatened to derail the landmark pact. The treaty would require industrialized and former Soviet bloc nations to curb their emissions of heat-trapping gases early in the next century.

With a single pounding of the gavel, Hiroshi Oki, Japan’s Minister for the Environment and chairman of the ministerial meeting that took up the treaty, signalled his judgement that a consensus had been reached on the treaty. No vote was taken.

The pact, if ratified, would require a 5.2 percent cut in greenhouse gases from 1990 levels during the years from 2008 to 2012.

The agreement was the result of two years of preparations capped by the 11-day conference, one day more than was originally scheduled. The effort was sparked by warnings that rising concentrations of carbon dioxide and other so-called greenhouse gases threaten to raise the earth’s temperature and cause a variety of catastrophic climate changes, including more frequent droughts and floods and a rise in sea levels.

The talks nearly collapsed in the final 24 hours of deliberations, as developing countries objected to provisions on the buying and selling of pollution rights and developing-country commitments to emissions curbs, only hours after the United States, the European Union and Japan managed to iron out longstanding differences. (Source: Reuters press release, December 1997.)


The Forum on "Forests and Energy", which was held in Schneverdingen, Germany, from 16 to 23 January 1998, was organized by the Alfred Toepfer Akademie für Naturschutz within the framework of the registered project of the World Exposition EXPO 2000 Hannover "Weltforum Wald". The forum focused discussions on the potential contribution of forests to the future energy demand and identified actions for its promotion and development.

In my opinion, this forum constituted one of the most specific (and timely, taking into account the recent meeting in Kyoto) events in which the forest contribution to the energy sector has ever been discussed. It was well organized, with contributions from important and highly qualified specialists from Europe and various developing countries, and the discussions in the different technical sessions were held in a frank, transparent and open manner with a high level of cooperation from all. The participants emphasized once again the multiple opportunities offered by forests and trees as environmentally friendly sources of energy. They mentioned the various barriers and constraints which need to be removed for their proper development, and especially the development of market opportunities through the removal of direct and indirect subsidies provided to conventional sources of energy and the "internalization of externalities".

This kind of event, in which the role of forests for carbon substitution and sequestration is discussed in depth, needs to be replicated in both developed and developing countries.

[FAO’s Forestry Department is in the process of establishing an informal Task Force on Dendroenergy and CO2 Substitution and Sequestration. More details will be given in the next issue of Forest Energy Forum.]


The most important world event for the forestry sector was the Eleventh World Forestry Congress which took place in Antalya, Turkey, from 13 to 22 October 1997. Session 16, dedicated to "Wood fuels and biomass energy: from household to industry", was chaired by Dr Victor Villalobos, Vice-Minister for the Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries, Mexico, with the assistance of Mr S.K. Pande, Additional Inspector-General of Forests, Ministry of Environment and Forests, India, as moderator, and Prof. Osman Sun, University of Sakarya, Turkey and Mr M.A. Trossero, FAO, as technical secretaries. The session summarized the present role of wood fuels as an energy source for the traditional residential sector and as an emerging modern energy option for the industrial, commercial and transport sectors. Nine participants, out of the 26 who presented voluntary contributions,were able to deliver their papers. Abstracts of two of the papers are presented below.

Wood fuels and biomass energy: from household to industry

Wood fuels and biomass are discussed regarding their present participation as energy sources responsible for a large share of the traditional residential sector and as an emerging modern energy option for the industrial, commercial and transport sectors. Examples for several developed and developing countries are listed showing the evolution of modern uses of wood fuels and biomass energy.

Future participation of these primary energy sources is forecast for two different situations. The first assumes that wood fuels and biomass will essentially continue to be used in households, mainly in developing countries, and very little effort, other than that currently under way, will be made by society to preserve natural forests. The expectation is that roundwood, fuelwood and charcoal demand will double by the year 2050 compared with 1990 and that severe shortages, mainly of fuelwood and charcoal, will occur in certain critical areas. The second situation assumes that modern uses of biomass energy will become so common owing to environmental concern – mainly about the high level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – that significant efforts from industrial and developing countries will make high-level technologies available for production and use of very large amounts of biomass. This forecast concludes that enough land and technologies exist for biomass energy derived from forests, energy crops and plantation residues to fulfil up to half the energy needs by the year 2050. Under this situation, the majority of biomass energy will become available from biomass plantation, followed by biomass residues and finally by fuelwood from forests. Demand will occur mainly in the industrial and transport sectors.

(Abstract by: Jose Roberto Moreira.)

For more information, please contact: Mr Jose Roberto Moreira, Biomass Users Network (BUN), Rua Francisco Dias Velho 814, São Paulo, Brazil 04581-001.
E-mail: bun@eu.ansp.br


Gestion rationnelle des ressources forestières et approvisionnement
des villes en bois de feu – expérience du Burkina Faso

Le Burkina Faso fait partie des pays de l’Afrique subsaharienne occidentale où, avec un revenu par habitant de moins de 190 dollars EU par an, l’immense majorité de la population est limitée à l’utilisation exclusive du bois comme combustible domestique. A la veille de l’an 2000, près de 90 pour cent du bilan énergétique national de ce pays sont encore constitués de combustible ligneux.

Ici, la dynamique d’urbanisation et le mode d’intégration des systèmes économiques rural et urbain ne sont pas encore arrivés à faire émerger un véritable secteur moderne d’exploitation des forêts pour l’approvisionnement urbain en combustible ligneux. Les modes de consommation urbains restent encore marqués par des habitudes rurales et l’exploitation forestière revêt les caractéristiques d’une économie de cueillette entretenue par un secteur informel (d’envergure nationale) d’exploitation du combustible ligneux pour l’approvisionnement des villes.

Le commerce du combustible ligneux, avec environ 20 milliards de FCFA (40 millions de dollars EU environ) de chiffre d’affaires annuel, serait l’une des principales causes d’une exploitation forestière plus ou moins irrationnelle du fait des déboisements induits à divers endroits du pays.

Les forêts naturelles des environs des principales villes comme Ouagadougou (capitale du pays) et Bobo-Dioulasso (ville industrielle) sont les plus dépréciées du fait de la proximité des villes et de l’impact de la demande urbaine en combustible ligneux.

Pour désamorcer cette tendance, le Gouvernement du Burkina Faso a entrepris dès le début des années 80 plusieurs actions avec l’appui de la FAO et du PNUD.

Parmi les différents domaines d’intervention identifiés, figure «le projet d’aménagement des forêts naturelles sur un rayon de 150 km autour de la ville de Ouagadougou» pour l’approvisionnement de ladite ville en bois de feu. Ce projet, démarré en 1986, est actuellement dans sa troisième phase d’évolution. Il a pour objectif essentiel de concilier la pression de la demande urbaine en bois de feu avec la nécessité de la gestion rationnelle et durable des forêts environnantes.

On le reconnaît par: i) sa méthodologie d’intervention quasiment unique en Afrique sahélienne; ii) ses réalisations sur les plans forestier, socio-organisationnel et économique; et iii) ses perspectives à la mesure des contraintes auxquelles il se heurte de plus en plus.

Après 10 ans d’activité, les acquis du projet touchent différents domaines:

Sur le plan environnemental. Environ 200 000 ha de forêts naturelles (villageoises pour la plupart) sur un rayon de 200 km autour de Ouagadougou sont en cours d’aménagement et de gestion forestière rationnelle avec la participation des populations rurales riveraines, soit une moyenne d’environ 20 000 ha par an. La simplicité du modèle d’aménagement forestier mis en œuvre s’est révélée être à la bonne mesure des capacités d’assimilation des partenaires ruraux.

Sur le plan énergétique. Le bois de feu issu de ces chantiers forestiers en aménagement représente actuellement 20 à 25 pour cent de l’approvisionnement du marché de Ouagadougou, soit environ 200 000 stères de bois de feu, et devrait atteindre 40 à 50 pour cent dudit marché à partir de 1998. Dans un contexte national où plus de 90 pour cent du commerce de produits forestiers sont assurés par des circuits commerciaux d’un secteur informel difficile à appréhender, le fait d’arriver, par l’intermédiaire d’un projet forestier, à assurer de façon rationnelle et formelle la couverture du quart du marché de la principale ville du pays est un bon exemple pour l’ensemble des pays africains aux caractéristiques similaires à celles du Burkina Faso.

Sur le plan socioéconomique. La zone d’influence du projet concerne actuellement 250 villages, soit une emprise sur près de 50 000 ruraux, dont 52 pour cent constitués de femmes. La monétarisation rurale (induite par l’exploitation commerciale du bois de feu des forêts en aménagement, les revenus de type salarial au titre de la rémunération de la contribution rurale à certaines activités forestières et les profits tirés des microréalisations) a largement contribué à l’amélioration des conditions de vie des populations rurales, dans un contexte où les revenus agricoles (cultures vivrières et de rente) ne dépassent guère la couverture du besoin minimum pour la subsistance des populations. Le chiffre d’affaires annuel du commerce du bois des forêts en aménagement dans le cadre du projet est évalué à 320 millions de FCFA répartis entre la rémunération des bûcherons (120 millions de FCFA), la constitution d’un fonds pour des investissements villageois (40 millions de FCFA), la taxe forestière au profit du Trésor public (60 millions de FCFA) et la constitution d’un fonds d’aménagement forestier (100 millions de FCFA).

Sur le plan organisationnel. Grâce au projet, 5 000 producteurs ruraux de bois de feu se sont constitués en Groupements villageois de gestion forestière (GGF) pour réaliser, en plus de l’exploitation commerciale du bois, des activités d’entretien et de restauration des forêts. L’Assemblée générale annuelle de l’Union des GGF définit le programme des activités et les budgets annuels avec l’appui des Services régionaux du Ministère de l’environnement et de l’eau. Le prix du bois à la production est fixé à 1 610 FCFA/stère, dont 610 pour la rémunération directe du producteur, 300 pour la taxe forestière, 200 pour le Fonds de roulement villageois et 500 pour le Fonds d’aménagement forestier (FAF). Le FAF, cogéré par les producteurs et les directions régionales du Ministère de l’environnement et de l’eau, est utilisé pour le financement des activités d’entretien et de restauration des forêts et pour la rémunération de type salarial d’une équipe technique permanente constituée d’un ingénieur des travaux forestiers, d’un comptable, d’un commis de commercialisation, d’un animateur et d’un gardien. Chaque chantier forestier offre ainsi un emploi permanent à cinq personnes, dont un cadre et quatre agents formés sur le tas.

Grâce au Fonds de roulement villageois, plusieurs actions d’utilité communautaire, comme la réfection des écoles, le fonçage des puits, la réfection des forages villageois pour l’eau, la création des banques de céréales, etc., ont pu être réalisées.

(Résumé par: Alhioume Thiam.)

Pour plus de détails, veuillez contacter: M. Alhioume Thiam, c/o FAO Representative, 01 B.P. 2540, Ouagadougou 01, Burkina Faso.
Télécopie: (+226) 310084;
mél.: FAO-BFA@field.fao.org


Resultado de la 16a sesión – Combustibles leñosos y energía de la biomasa: de la familia a la industria

La reunión reiteró que los combustibles leñosos representan una fuente importante de energía para la generación de calor en las casas e industrias, tanto en los países en desarrollo como en los desarrollados, y subrayó que a pesar de los esfuerzos hechos en las últimas décadas para equilibrar la demanda y la oferta de los combustibles leñosos, el uso intensivo de estos combustibles en algunos países todavía origina mucha presión sobre los recursos forestales existentes, especialmente en los ecosistemas frágiles. La reunión observó que las organizaciones gubernamentales han proporcionado tradicionalmente asistencia para el desarrollo de fuentes para un mayor abastecimiento de combustibles leñosos y aconsejó que los nuevos enfoques que están siendo adoptados con éxito en las actividades de plantación de árboles realizadas por asociaciones y cooperativas de usuarios y cultivadores privados sin la intervención del gobierno, sean debidamente difundidos y ejecutados. La reunión enfatizó que los combustibles leñosos son una fuente de energía localmente disponible, inocua para el medio ambiente y que no produce carbono, que permite la sustitución de las emisiones de carbono con la generación de energía y la producción de combustibles líquidos derivados, y que conduce al desarrollo de nuevas plantaciones de árboles tanto en suelos forestales como no forestales. La reunión subrayó que el uso exagerado de fertilizantes y de otros compuestos químicos utilizados en las plantaciones intensivas de árboles tiene que ser cuidadosamente controlado para evitar daños ambientales indeseables. Se observó que todavía tienen que ser eliminadas muchas barreras institucionales, técnicas, económicas y sociales para permitir el uso sostenible de los combustibles leñosos como fuente sostenible de energía, y se recomendó que las nuevas tecnologías procedentes de las investigaciones y de las actividades de desarrollo actuales en el sector forestal y energético podrían hacer que la producción y el uso de los combustibles leñosos fueran más competitivos y eficaces desde el punto de vista de los costos y aconsejó su propagación y ejecución. La reunión señaló que los inventarios forestales tradicionales no están proyectados correctamente para la medición de la base de recursos forestales para los combustibles leñosos y aconsejó que se difundieran y aplicaran los nuevos modelos y enfoques para los inventarios forestales al efecto de calcular la base de biomasa para el uso energético de las tierras forestales y no forestales.

Se recalcó que, si bien los servicios silviculturales han sido las principales instituciones involucradas en los aspectos y problemas concernientes a los combustibles leñosos, actualmente las agencias energéticas están comprometiéndose cada vez más en este campo.

La reunión recomendó el desarrollo y establecimiento de nuevos enlaces de comunicación, con el fin de planificar y organizar el uso sostenible de la madera como fuente de energía inocua para el medio ambiente, en las políticas silviculturales y energéticas, y sugirió una serie apropiada de políticas fiscales, económicas y ambientales para la producción de bioenergía a nivel nacional y local y la conservación de los recursos forestales para fines energéticos.


Data collection and analysis for sustainable forest management in ACP
countries linking national and international efforts

The European Commission (EC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) share a common interest in advancing sustainable forest management (SFM) within the broad context of sustainable development. In cooperation with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that are signatories of the Lomé Convention (ACP countries), the EC and FAO are launching a three-year programme (1998-2000) to improve the quality and reliability of forestry data. The project will strengthen the capacity in selected ACP countries to gather and analyse key data, refine the methodology to collect information not previously recorded (such as trees outside forests, fuelwood, and non-wood forest products) and produce better assessments of likely developments in the forestry sector.

The growing worldwide interest in SFM, based on economically, environmentally and socially balanced forest policies, provokes the need for good, reliable and timely data on forest resources, forest products and trade. For a number of ACP countries, the data available are not sufficiently accurate or complete to serve as a basis for national strategic policy decisions on SFM or as a basis for private sector investment. Improved data will provide governments with the information needed to establish the proper policies and procedures to calculate and implement sustainable harvesting levels and to make other decisions that promote SFM. Reliable information on the quality and character of the forest resources, the existing uses being made of the forest and the potential markets for forest products is necessary for developing the private sector commitment to and investment in SFM.

An expanded database that includes new information such as fuelwood and non-wood forest products will support intergovernmental efforts to formulate appropriate policies based on criteria and indicators of SFM. While some of this information is available in selected ACP countries, it is not available for all, nor is it available at a regional level. In order to collect this new information, new methods of data gathering must be developed and capacity built within the forestry sector to collect and manage the information.


We are still working on the preparation of the Unified Wood Energy Terminology, Definitions and Conversion Factors (UWET). I have received a good response from my colleagues here in the Forestry Department’s Forestry Planning and Statistics Branch and much support from both public and private organizations at the national and international levels, especially from the Statistics Unit of the International Energy Agency (IEA). We are now planning to translate this terminology into all FAO official languages and will then test it in the preparation of the ACP project executed by FAO’s Forestry Department and funded by the EC [see article above].

I also presented UWET at the Second IEA Expert Workshop on Biomass Energy: Data, Analysis and Trends which was held in Paris from 23 to 24 March 1998. [See under News and Notes for more information on IEA.] A more detailed account of UWET will be given in the next issue of Forest Energy Forum.

Miguel A. Trossero

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