Wood energy and forest landscape restoration (FLR) are often seen as contradicting one another; we often hear of the traditional use of woodfuel causing forest degradation, or of the conservation of forest habitats reducing energy access and livelihoods for rural households. But there is another story to be told, whereby sustainable wood energy can enhance FLR whilst also contributing to sustainable livelihoods. As CIFOR notes, woodfuel has “untapped potential” for renewable energy and climate change mitigation. This requires the improvement of the sustainability of the wood energy value chain in order to reduce pressures on natural forests through better management practices and improved technologies.
There are many ways in which the potential of woodfuel can be realised. Indeed, the sustainability of the wood energy can be improved across the value chain, from biomass production and transformation to the production and use of bioenergy and its by-products.
Agroforestry, for instance, is one method for reducing the pressures on forests from the production of biomass for energy. One successful example of the deployment of this practice comes from an integrated food-energy-restoration concept, where Gliricidia trees are intercropped with smallholder coconut for electricity generation, biofertiliser and fodder. This can have positive impacts not only on the yield of the food crops but also on the farmer income, land restoration and soil carbon sequestration. GBEP, as part of its Working Group on Capacity Building, is working to highlight good examples such as this through webinars and following publication on Good examples of the positive relationship between wood energy and forest landscape restoration. This workstream, under the Activity Group 4 on Sustainable Modern Wood Energy Development, will highlight the potential of sustainable wood energy to contribute to forest landscape restoration and sustainable livelihoods.
GBEP is also collaborating with GIZ and IEA Bioenergy on creating and reinforcing the dialogue between stakeholders in the forest and wood energy sectors. The collaboration aims to improve knowledge and capacities related to sustainable local production and use of wood energy as well as on sound planning for sustainable landscapes and rural development. The final objective is to develop a joint agenda for action from stakeholders on both sides of the wood energy/FLR divide. Recent successful events organised by GBEP in this context have included a session at the Global Landscape Forum in Accra, Ghana. The collaboration will continue into 2020 and beyond, with further international dialogues already being planned, and national processes also occurring in Ghana and Togo.