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ESMAP Report Outlines Models to Formalize Commercial Wood Energy Sectors in Developing Countries

9 January 2012: The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) of the World Bank has published a report, titled "Commercial Woodfuel Production: Experience from Three Locally Controlled Wood Production Models," as part of its Knowledge Series. 

The report aims to share best forestry practices for sustainable production of commercial woodfuels, which typically include firewood and charcoal and are the main source of energy, as well as a major forest product, for many people in developing countries. The report highlights three commercial forestry models that have the potential to invigorate the wood energy sector, reduce negative impacts and have positive social and environmental impacts, including on climate change mitigation. Specifically, the models investigated were: community-based forest management in sub-saharan Africa; private woodlots in sub-saharan Africa; and forest replacement associations (FRA) in Latin America.

The report concludes that private woodlots and forest replacement associations (FRA) illustrate that local governance of commercial woodfuel production can play a leading role in a modern, integrated energy sector. These models are also economically feasible, socially beneficial and environmentally sustainable. However, the report indicates that wood producers do not always reap economic benefits due to reasons including underpricing of woodfuel in relation to production costs because of competition from illegally harvested wood, and corrupt and oligopolistic marketing models hindering the establishment of formalized value-chain structures.

The report highlights minimum requirements for establishing a more sustainable framework including: elevating the national status of woodfuels; establishing a supportive regulatory framework for a modern woodfuel industry; enforcing woodfuel regulations; and strengthening decentralized forest authorities. [Publication: Commercial Woodfuel Production: Experience from Three Locally Controlled Wood Production Models]