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 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. [#print("more")]
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All energy videos



Sustainable woodfuel for food security A smart choice: green, renewable and affordable 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 The overall objective of the publication is to provide data and information to allow for informed decision-making on the contribution sustainable charcoal production and consumption can make 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. The charcoal sector, which is largely informal, generates income for more than 40 million people, but a lack of regulation means that it promotes inefficiency and governments forgo billions of dollars in revenue. [more]
Incentivizing sustainable wood energy in sub-Saharan Africa Woodfuel contributes to more than half of energy consumption in 22 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, and over two-thirds of the households in Africa use wood as their main fuel for cooking, heating and water boiling.Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) will continue to rely predominantly on woodfuel for energy for the foreseeable future. Governments in the region have tried a range of policies and regulations to avoid the negative impacts of woodfuel sourcing and to accentuate the benefits, from which many lessons can be learned. This policy brief reviews experiences with woodfuel policies and regulations in SSA and presents six main findings for promoting sustainable wood energy. [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. [more]
Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, on sustainable forest management 23 April 2018 During the International Day of Forests’ celebrations, Ms. Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, talks to the FAO Forestry team about which key areas of sustainable forest management have direct relevance for UNCCD. [more]
Jaakko Nousiainen on wood-based diesel 23 April 2018 Jaakko Nousiainen, Production Director for the UPM Lappeenranta Biorefinery in Finland explains that wood-based diesel from renewable sources can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 80% compared to normal diesel. [more]
More than heat! Wood energy for the future 23 April 2018 The XIV World Forestry Congress event focused on wood energy and its potential for contributing to a sustainable future. The discussion highlighted ways to make wood energy production more sustainable and efficient and to enhance its contribution to sustainable development. [more]



Turning black charcoal 'green'

last updated:  Monday, May 14, 2018