International Day highlights forests’ role in sustainable energy

Until the advent of fossil fuels, for thousands of years, wood was the primary source of energy for human populations. Today, over 2 billion people worldwide, in rural and urban areas, still rely on wood for their primary energy needs. Wood constitutes the primary source of energy for cooking and heating in many developing countries, where nearly 90 per cent of fuelwood and charcoal is consumed.

Regions with the greatest incidence of poverty, most notably Sub-Saharan Africa and low income households in Asia, are also the most dependent on fuel wood. At the same time, the use of unsustainably harvested fuelwood, which often occurs in these areas, continues to be a challenge which has negative economic and environmental impacts.

Developing countries are not the only ones dependent on forests for energy. Bio energy from forest biomass (in various forms, including pellets, sticks and sawdust) accounts for about half of Europe’s renewable-energy consumption. Countries across Europe are converting their power plants from using only coal to a mix of coal and wood products to meet renewable “carbon neutral” energy goals.

In recognition of these important inter-linkages between forests and energy, the central theme of the 2017 International Day of Forests is “Forests and Energy.” The need for sustainable management of forests and sustainable energy resources has also been recognized in SDGs 7 and SDG 15 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Read the full article on DESA Voice.