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March 2005

Forests and Bioenergy

Committee on Forestry
Seventeenth Session
15-19 March 2005
Rome, Italy

Committee on Agriculture
Nineteenth Session
13-16 April 2005
Rome, Italy

Clean and safe energy services are essential for achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. However, around two billion people, mostly living in rural areas of developing countries, are still without electricity or other modern energy services and rely largely on burning fuelwood and charcoal to meet their basic cooking and heating needs. At the international level, petroleum-based fuels are the other dominant energy source. While these have allowed for industrial development, they are also the cause of many of the environmental concerns of our modern society.

Besides providing an important option for world energy, the production and use of biofuels are linked to a host of issues, such as crop management and cropping systems, food security, land use and rural development, sustainable forest management, biodiversity conservation, and mitigation of climate change. Increased utilization of biofuels, if properly managed, can help to provide cleaner energy services while contributing to sustainable development and the alleviation of environmental concerns. Although the economic competitiveness of biofuels versus fossil fuels is a major challenge, there are many other problems, covering a wide range of institutional aspects and technological issues, which deserve the priority attention of FAO.

For discussion, the term “bioenergy” refers to the conversion of biomass for energy, including wood energy derived from trees and agro energy derived from non-wood agricultural crops. This paper explores advantages and opportunities for increased utilization of bioenergy, which can contribute, among other things, to the diversification of agricultural and forestry activities, and the improvement of food security and poverty alleviation. Views are sought on the contribution that FAO and other organisations could make towards promoting changes in the agricultural and forestry sectors through the integration of bioenergy activities within present farming and timber production systems.

(Also available in Arabic, French and Spanish)

Click here to view the document (Committee on Forestry).

Click here to view the document (Committee on Agriculture).

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