This manual on making charcoal using simple technology systems represents another step by FAO to help overcome fuel shortages in the developing world.
Sixty percent of all wood taken from the world's forests is believed to be burnt as fuel - either directly or by first converting it into charcoal. The proportion of fuelwood used to make charcoal can only be estimated. But it is probably around 25 percent or about 400 million cubic metres per year throughout the world.
Charcoal in developing countries is mainly used as domestic fuel for cooking and heating but it is also an important industrial fuel. Large amounts are used in foundries and forges; in the extraction and refining of metals, especially iron, and in numerous other metallurgical and chemical applications. In those developing countries with abundant forest resources the export of charcoal can be a profitable industry.
Making charcoal by using labour-intensive methods is the concern of this manual. Its main purpose is to inform and orient government agencies and industrialists in developing countries concerned with improving production and distribution of charcoal.
This manual cannot reach easily and directly the mass of small Charcoal producers, distributors and users as, in general, they do not acquire knowledge of improved methods from books but from practical experience. This knowledge must be made available to them by government agencies directly or through internationally sponsored development projects.
The manual embodies the collective wisdom of charcoal makers of many countries and is offered in the hope that it will aid both to increase production of charcoal and, at the same time, conserve forest resources by curbing wasteful methods of production.
It is difficult to acknowledge adequately the assistance provided from so many sources. The bibliography gives the more important sources of information drawn on in compiling the manual. The help of the many workers involved is gratefully acknowledged, in particular that of Mr. Harry Booth.
FAO wishes to thank the Government of Sweden, whose generous financial aid made possible the publication of this manual.