Many important events have occurred during this semester, as you will see when reading the different articles presented in this issue. Some of them are very positive, interesting and encouraging for those of us involved in bioenergy themes and aspects; others, however, are not so good.

I regret to report that among these was the death of David Hall on 22 August at the age of 63. David was a professor of biology at King's College London, from where he contributed to many issues. In particular, he made an outstanding contribution to our Wood Energy Programme in its work on bioenergy, and bioenergy and its interrelation with global climate change, energy and environmental policies.

It is really hard for me to describe my Latin feelings about David's outstanding ability to see, write and describe the bioenergy situation and contribution, and the connections and interrelations between different disciplines, technologies and policies. With his work and assistance David helped us, our partners and me in particular, to develop bioenergy to its present status as an environmentally friendly source of energy and as an option for the mobilization of investment for rural development.

However, it was in the early 1990s, when few people trusted wood energy as a modern source of energy, that David helped me and proved to be so useful. At that time, David used all his efforts and talent to support and promote bioenergy activities. Many thanks David. I, in the bioenergy community, will never be able to forget your dedication and great support for the inspiration of a new energy order. [See under Special Features for a tribute to Professor David Hall.]

During these past months we have seen the establishment of new bioenergy programmes, some of which will lead future bioenergy activities. For instance, the new plan established by President Clinton deserves special attention since it is quite clear that it will not only influence bioenergy activities in the industrialized world but also those in developing countries. [See under United States in our Country Compass section for more information.]

On the other hand, negotiations on climate change mitigation measures within the UNFCCC are proceeding very slowly and the COP-5 meeting in Bonn ended without any real important decision for us. One thing is becoming clear, however: the process is not going back and the use of environmentally friendly energy sources has encouraging perspectives.

In our specific area of work, I am pleased to announce that we have now finalized the third in our regional Wood Energy Today for Tomorrow (WETT) studies "The role of wood energy in Africa", which presents woodfuel information and data for 55 African countries. According to the best current wood energy estimates, African woodfuel consumption reached 623 million m3 in 1994. The figures show that Africa has the highest per caput woodfuel consumption (0.89 m3/year) compared with other continents (e.g. Asia: 0.3 m3/caput/year) and that the woodfuel share ranges from 61 to 86 percent of primary energy consumption, with a major part (74 to 97 percent) consumed by households. Unfortunately, despite its important interactions with development, environment and social welfare, there have only been a few attempts in Africa to include woodfuels as a basic sector in the planning processes of forestry and energy agencies.

We are now preparing the fourth regional WETT study, covering the Latin American and Caribbean countries. More details will be given in our next issue.

Let's hope that forest energy continues to develop successfully in the new millennium!

Miguel A. Trossero

[Top of page][Contents]