Positive relationships between wood energy and forest landscape restoration

The Activity Group 4 ‘Towards Sustainable Modern Wood Energy Development’ has been evaluating the many ways to improve the sustainability of the wood energy sector to ensure that it positively contributes to forest landscape restoration (FLR), as well as other environmental, social and economic objectives.

What is forest landscape restoration?

Forest landscape restoration (FLR) is the recovery of forest landscapes through the restoration of ecological functionality. As its name suggests, its focus is at the landscape level, taking into consideration the multiple ecological, social and economic functions of landscapes and the associated ecosystem goods and services. The concepts of FLR are applied all over the world and approaches are tailored to the local contexts.

Improving the sustainability of wood energy value chains for FLR

In 2017, biomass accounted for 55.6 percent of the Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) of renewables (IEA, 2019), of which the forestry sector is the largest contributor with 85 percent of all biomass for energy purposes coming from forestry products, such as charcoal, fuelwood, pellets and wood chips (WBA, 2019). The use of traditional woodfuel – i.e. the inefficient use of fuelwood and charcoal for cooking and heating – is a large contributor to the consumption of forest biomass. Indeed, traditional wood energy is still the primary source of energy for many households in some parts of the world, most notably in Africa and Asia.

Improving the sustainability of wood energy value chains can reduce pressures on natural forests through better management practices and improved technologies. 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.

Collecting examples of positive relationships between wood energy and forest landscape restoration

The recent AG4 Report ‘Positive relationships between wood energy and forest landscape restoration’ has gathered together examples of how improvements along the wood energy value chain can positively contribute to FLR. Selected examples were also presented during a GBEP webinar, the recording of which is available online.

Enhancing international and national dialogues

GBEP has also been working alongside GIZ and IEA Bioenergy to bridge the gap between the bioenergy and the FLR sectors, which usually work “in silos” with a limited or even null cooperation.

The projects – a collaborative effort between FAO, IEA Bioenergy and with the financial support of GIZ – brought together relevant stakeholders of these two realms, raised their awareness on the activities currently on-going on the same thematic area and spatial context, and created a network to enable synergies, thus accelerating the achievement of common goals (e.g. SDGs, NDCs).

The preliminary project outcomes can be read online.