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. [more]
Forests and Energy Forests are nature’s powerhouse and a vital resource for meeting the world’s renewable-energy demand. [more]
Better cookstoves for better lives For many households in developing countries, forests and trees are indispensable and some 2.4 billion people rely on wood for cooking. Traditional cooking methods make inefficient use of this precious commodity, leading to overuse and degradation of the forests. [more]
Forests: nature’s powerhouse Forests cover nearly a third of the earth’s land surface and serve as a fuel source much as it has for millennia, currently accounting for about 40 percent of the global renewable energy supply - as much as solar, hydroelectric and wind power combined. [more]
Riikka Joukio of the Metsä Group on wood fuel and sustainable forestry 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 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]
Interview with Eva Müller, Director, Forestry Policy and Resources Division, FAO 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]
Jaakko Nousiainen on wood-based diesel 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. The UPM Biorefinery uses innovative methods to produce advanced wood-based renewable diesel from the residue from the pulp making process. [more]
More than heat! Wood energy for the future This special XIV World Forestry Congress event focused on wood energy and the potential it holds for contributing to a sustainable future. The discussion highlighted ways to make wood energy production and use more sustainable and efficient and to enhance its contribution to sustainable development and greener economies. [more]
More heat with less wood Making a fire is easy, but making efficient use of wood energy at home is everything else but easy! The affected sectors of development work for the use of wood for heating and cooking are diverse- thermal insulation of housing, heating technology, consumer health and behavioural aspects of wood use along with ensuring a minimum quality of the natural resource wood, to name just a few. In fact, to foster sustainable development in this field is a complex task that can best be achieved by cross-sectorial efforts. [more]


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The charcoal transition: greening the charcoal value chain to mitigate climate change and improve local livelihoods Forests: nature’s powerhouse 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, mostly for cooking and heating. Of all the wood used as fuel worldwide, 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]
The charcoal transition: Executive summary Executive summary from the report, charcoal transition: greening the charcoal value chain to mitigate climate change and improve local livelihoods. Fuelwood and charcoal are important sources of energy for households and small industries in developing countries. More than 2.4 billion people – about one-third of the world’s population – still rely on the traditional use of woodfuel for cooking, and many small enterprises use fuelwood and charcoal as the main energy carriers for purposes such as baking, tea processing and brickmaking. An estimated 50 percent of the wood extracted from forests worldwide is used as fuelwood and charcoal. [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]
Forestry for a low-carbon future - Integrating forests and wood products in climate change strategies Climate change is one of the key challenges of present and future generations. The impact of increased global temperature will affect all regions and countries, but will hit hardest those already living in poverty and food insecurity. By June 2016, 178 countries had already signed the Paris Agreement adopted at the end of 2015, in clear recognition of the urgency of global action to respond to the climate change challenge. A majority of the signatories included agriculture and forests in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions for mitigation of climate change, some highlighting forests’ importance also for adaptation. [more]
Assessing woodfuel supply and demand in displacement settings - A technical handbook This manual presents a methodology for assessing woodfuel supply and demand at the level of the displacement camp through the collection of primary data in the field and remote sensing analysis. The methodology uses a multi-sectoral approach to assess the energy-related needs and challenges of people in both displaced and host communities. Displacement caused by conflict and natural hazards has increased dramatically in recent years with many people seeking refuge in camps and improvised settlements within their countries of origin and across international borders in host countries. [more]
Woodfuels handbook Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, on sustainable forest management This handbook offers information on wood biomass for both producers and consumers and is adapted for the market needs and problems identifed in Southeast Europe. It was prepared by wood biomass expert, Dr. Nike Krajnc, as part of the FAO project “Support to Implementation of the Forest Policy and Strategy in Kosovo”, and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. Wood biomass is a renewable and CO2 neutral source of energy, which, if used in a sustainable and efficient way can contribute to a cleaner environment. Wood has been used as a source of fuel for millennia and is still used in households around the world. [more]


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Turning black charcoal 'green' Duration: 19 min

last updated:  Tuesday, March 6, 2018