This report presents the results of a six-month inter-ministerial study of woodfuel flows into Phnom Penh. The study was initiated by the Cambodian Environmental Management Program, and the study team was drawn from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Department of Forestry) and Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy (Department of Energy).
The study highlights the importance of wood energy in government policy formulation and provides an overview of the urban market structure and the main supply areas.
Woodfuels are the most commonly used energy sources for the majority of the population in Cambodia. In Phnom Penh, the country's economic centre, 84% of households rely on firewood and charcoal as their main energy sources for cooking, and these energy forms are also used extensively by industries and services. Fuel switches to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) are observed in wealthier households, but the majority of the city's population is found in low-income households. Population growth is, therefore, likely to be highest in this sector, and it is unlikely that the demand for wood energy will decrease in the foreseeable future because it is cheap and can be bought in small quantities.
The woodfuel flow system is unregulated, informal and complex, and the urban traders provide an important link between suppliers and consumers, both within Phnom Penh and in the surrounding forest-poor provinces.
The provision of wood energy is often associated with forest loss. Although not always the main cause, demands for woodfuels by the commercial markets in Phnom Penh contribute to forest loss and degradation. Firewood and charcoal are renewable and indigenous sources of energy and require integration into forest and energy planning processes.