Wood energy

In recent years, wood energy has attracted attention as an environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil energy, especially in industrial applications for heat and power generation and co-firing for bioelectricity generation. A key priority is aligning energy policies so that the production and use of woody biomass for energy is based on what can be sustainably supplied. FAO assists Member States to improve their wood energy situation in terms of social and economic viability, ecological sustainability, resource efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions. The Organization supports its Members by:

  • raising awareness of the importance of wood energy;
  • collecting, improving and sharing accurate data;
  • formulating, implementing and monitoring sound wood energy policies;
  • facilitating cross-sectoral communication and collaboration; and
  • applying sustainable and resource efficient production and consumption practices.

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Improving the decision making process

Information is key for formulating modern, efficient and sustainable wood energy policies and programmes. Data availability on woodfuel use and production are often scattered and incomplete due to the informality of market structures. FAO collects and publishes statistical data on fuelwood, and charcoal in a freely accessible database (faostat.fao.org), which will soon be exanded to include wood pellets. FAO constantly strives to systematically revise and improve data availability and quality.

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Assessing supply and demand

FAO, together with the Institute of Ecology of the National University of Mexico (UNAM) have developed the Woodfuel Integrated Supply/Demand Overview Mapping (WISDOM). The methodology supports strategic wood energy planning and policy formulation through geographic representation of both woodfuel production and consumption, which allows for the identification of priority areas of intervention within a country. The methodology has been applied at various administrative levels (regional, sub-regional, national, national or city) to address issues related to sustainable forest management, energy security and rural development.

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Safe Access to Firewood and alternative Energy sources (SAFE)

FAO remains engaged in SAFE activities and is currently participating in the SAFE Reference Group which was established in 2012. FAO’s response to the cooking needs of assisted populations in emergency and recovery contexts aims to increase resilience in disaster-prone areas, and support the transition from emergency to rehabilitation through a focus on the environment and natural resources management, and livelihood activities.

last updated:  Wednesday, February 20, 2013