Key messages

  • Wood provides the world with more energy than solar, hydroelectric or wind power, accounting for roughly 40 percent of current global renewable energy supply. It plays an important role in both developing and in some industrialized countries.
  • About 50 percent of global wood production (around 1.86 billion cubic meters) is used as energy for cooking, heating, and electricity generation. For 2.4 billion people, woodfuel means a cooked and more nutritious meal, boiled water, and a warm dwelling.
  • Approximately 883 million people in developing countries are employed in the wood energy sector on a full or part-time basis.
  • Modernizing the wood energy sector can help revitalize rural economies and stimulate enterprise development – greater investment in wood energy production and advanced wood fuels can provide revenue to finance better forest management, more growing forests and more jobs.
  • Strategically placed trees in urban areas can cool the air by between 2-8 degrees C.
  • Globally, forests hold an energy content approximately 10 times that of the world’s annual primary energy consumption. They thus have significant potential as renewable resources to meet global energy demand.
  • Greater investment in technological innovation and in sustainably managed forests is the key to increasing forests’ role as a major source of renewable energy. In this way, we invest in our sustainable future, in meeting several Sustainable Development Goals and in growing a green economy.
  • Increased areas of sustainably managed household and community woodlots and the use of clean and efficient wood stoves can give millions more people in developing countries access to cheap, reliable and renewable energy.


Clean energy from sustainable wood Forests and trees absorb the sun’s energy and store it by turning it into wood—the world’s most used source of renewable energy. [more]
Forests and energy Forests are nature’s powerhouse and a vital resource for meeting the world’s renewable-energy demand. [more]


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Sustainable woodfuel for food security With food insecurity, climate change and deforestation and forest degradation remaining key global issues, this paper highlights the role of sustainable woodfuel in improving food security. Food insecurity and a high dependence on woodfuel as a primary cooking fuel are characteristics common to vulnerable groups of people in developing regions of the world.With adequate policy and legal frameworks in place, woodfuel production and harvesting can be sustainable and a main source of green energy. [more]
The charcoal transition: greening the charcoal value chain to mitigate climate change and improve local livelihoods This publication provides data and information to allow informed decision-making on how sustainable charcoal production and consumption can contribute to climate change mitigation. About half the wood extracted worldwide from forests is used to produce energy and about 17 percent is converted to charcoal. Global charcoal production is expected to continue increasing in coming decades. [more]


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Press releases

FAO’s work on Safe Access to Fuel and Energy (SAFE) Globally, nearly 3 billion people rely on traditional biomass, such as fuelwood, charcoal or animal waste, as sources of fuel for cooking and heating. In many African countries, more than 80 percent of the population cook their meals using traditional biomass; by 2030, it is anticipated that 1 billion people in Africa will depend on traditional biomass to meet their energy needs . [more]
Greening wood energy is key to mitigate climate change and improve rural livelihoods Greening the wood energy sector holds a vast potential for reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and improving rural livelihoods, FAO said today on the occasion of the UN's International Day of Forests. [more]

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Expert interviews

Interview with Eva Müller, Director, Forestry Policy and Resources Division, FAO 24 April 2018 Eva Müller, the Director of the Forestry Policy and Resources Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations explains the importance of improving the sustainability of production and the efficiency of wood energy. [more]
Riikka Joukio of the Metsä Group on wood fuel and sustainable forestry 23 April 2018 Ms. Riikka Joukio, Senior Vice President of Sustainability and Corporate Affairs for the Metsä Group on wood as a fuel of the future and how to ensure its sustainability. [#print("more")]

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Turning black charcoal 'green'

last updated:  Wednesday, February 24, 2021