Forest Energy Forum is really flying high! The critical phase is over and here we are now with the third issue. The good news is that Forest Energy Forum is also available electronically through our FEF home page [see Box below]. Thus, the number of contacts, which grew rapidly with issues 1 and 2, is increasing even more. We are happy with this small success and are starting to see that our first objectives are being accomplished. Having a forum where we can discuss with readers (from forestry, energy and environment sectors as well as different disciplines and backgrounds) the subject of wood energy for traditional use, and woodfuel as a modern energy carrier, is making FEF unique.
This issue covers many different themes - from a project using improved ovens for fish smoking in Guinea to the efforts of car manufacturers and oil companies to combat climate change. In order to contribute to a better understanding of the role of wood energy, it is important to show its multiple dimensions.
The Kyoto Protocol, agreed in November 1997, has contributed to our success, and will help especially to revamp forest energy as a modern energy carrier to combat the adverse effects of climate change. This agreement and the changes in energy policies initiated some years ago, the increasing advantage of woodfuel over other fuel options, and its largely untapped potential as a modern energy carrier, bring new opportunities for the utilization of cheap fuel sources.
The role assigned to bioenergy by the White Paper adopted by the European Union is a relevant initiative to fight greenhouse gas emissions. This document identifies a campaign for the "take-off of renewables" for large-scale penetration by 2010, assuming that bioenergy will generate 10 000 MW of real "green energy" using combined heat and power plants. Similar schemes have been adopted in other industrialized countries (e.g. Canada, Australia and New Zealand) and in some developing countries (e.g. Nicaragua and Honduras). This is really good news, not only for the energy and forestry sectors, but also for the many policy-makers, energy planners and experts who have been waiting a long time for the chance to show the immense potential of forest biomass for energy purposes.
The number of events and activities held monthly worldwide is increasing, as are the level and number of participants at those meetings - all indications of the interest in this "new-old" subject. I have participated in some extremely useful and informative events. I represented FAO at the Eighth Session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) which was held in Bonn, Germany in June. As a result of this participation, two meetings, organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and SBSTA, were held in Rome in September. The IPCC meeting discussed the outline of a Special Report on Land-Use Change and Forestry, and the SBSTA meeting discussed the definitions for land-use change and forestry activities included in the Kyoto Protocol [see under Special Features]. I also participated in the meeting of the International Energy Agency (IEA) Bioenergy Task 25 in Nokia, Finland [see under Events of Interest] where I was able to make a field trip in the area of forest biomass for energy use. I was impressed by the technological development of the companies involved in the production, preparation, supply and use of woodfuels, and the level of integration of the new forest energy activities within the traditional forestry ones. This multidisciplinary integration is making wood energy an increasingly cost-effective source of energy.
FAO's Forestry Department has established a Task Force on the Role of Forestry in Carbon Sequestration which we hope will permit a better coordination of our activities with technical units both within and outside FAO [see under Special Features]. We are continuing to work on the collection of available information and data to upgrade and update our wood energy information systems and have started with Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT) Africa within the framework of the EC/FAO project on Data Collection and Analysis for Sustainable Forest Management: Linking National and International Efforts.
We have also begun preparations for a new Wood Energy Programme with the assistance of Prof. David Hall [see his article under Special Features] and Frank Rosillo-Calle of King's College London. I will share their ideas with you in the next issue, and look forward to your comments and views.
Finally, we have had to say goodbye to Prof. Luiz A. Horta Nogueira, who spent 11 months with us in Rome while on his sabbatical year and has now returned to his duties at the University of Itajuba in Brazil [see his contribution in Focus on ... Brazil]. Luiz has left a considerable number of technical papers as well as other material which help to make our life easier.
Miguel A. Trossero
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