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Forests & Energy

6. How should bioenergy policies be developed?

    Sustainable management and development should be part of forest and
                                        energy policies
    Sustainable management and development should be part of forest and energy policies
    Credit: Masakazu Kashio

    In most countries, policies and programmes to promote bioenergy are still at their early stage. Most programmes focus on liquid transportation fuels, while little attention has been given to research and development, training, or to transfer of information from developed to developing countries. This transfer is however of considerable importance in achieving the objectives of bioenergy development in terms of climate change mitigation, energy security, and agricultural development.

    Effective land-use planning is needed to counteract adverse socio-economic impacts (e.g. on food security and availability of wood products) and environmental effects (e.g. biodiversity loss, greenhouse gas emissions) from large bioenergy projects. National strategies should consider the environmental performance, the cost-effectiveness as well as the energy efficiency of wood- and crop-based energy sources. Given their limited financial resources, developing countries should invest in proven technology and readily available sources of biomass.

    All countries should have a better knowledge of their wood resources. This information could then be used to:

    • quantify the potential for local forest biomass to generate heat, power, or plant-based liquid biofuels;
    • evaluate the contribution by each potential source of wood (e.g. forests, energy plantations, residues) to wood energy production; and
    • analyse the advantages and drawbacks of various land-use patterns.

    National goals must reflect the principles of sustainable development and sustainable forest management. The regional, national and international impacts of each goal, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of energy derived from wood, agriculture and other sources, should be considered. In particular, national forestry and energy policies should:

    • address bioenergy as an issue that is relevant to different sectors – mainly the agriculture and forestry ones – and that must be integrated into the policies of these sectors;
    • consider environmental, economic and social impacts on local, national and regional levels;
    • ensure that information is readily accessible to all stakeholders to support informed decisions about the management of forest resources;
    • consider areas such as land-use management, rural employment, and environmental protection to look for synergies and avoid negative impacts;
    • support bioenergy development through research, education and training, and through transport and infrastructure measures;
    • create the right balance between agriculture and forestry, as well as between domestic and imported sources of biomass;
    • consider the impacts of bioenergy on other economic sectors to avoid market distortions.
    • be monitored regularly to avoid negative environmental and social impacts; and
    • prevent the destruction of natural resources and biodiversity.

    In addition, wood resources should be sustainably managed and protected by various laws, regulations and policies.

    The current situation represents a major opportunity for the forestry sector to contribute to increasing the security of energy supply and to mitigating climate change by reducing dependence on fossil fuels. More...


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