FAO Publishes Sustainable Woodfuels Guide

21 September 2010: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has published a guide on the sustainable use of woodfuel resources and the sustainable production of charcoal.

The guide outlines global woodfuel use and supply, noting that in both developed and developing countries, wood-based biomass is receiving increasing attention as a potential renewable energy source. The guide reviews existing criteria and indicators systems and certification schemes, and highlights policy and institutional frameworks needed to ensure sustainable woodfuel use. It reviews social and cultural aspects of woodfuel usage, including health, safety and gender issues, and discusses environmental and economic considerations. Based on these, the authors present a selection of criteria and indicators for sustainable woodfuel use and sustainable charcoal production.

The 17 criteria and 57 indicators are based on four principles: policies, laws, institutional frameworks and capacity exist and are clear and consistent; human and labor rights are respected, and social and cultural values are maintained or enhanced; economic sustainability is ensured; and landscape and site productivity and environmental values are sustained. The guide is designed to help policy and decision makers in forestry, energy and environment agencies, non-governmental and other civil-society organizations and the private sector ensure that the woodfuel sector reaches its full potential as an agent of sustainable development. [The Guide]