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Expert Opinions

Is Wood Energy A Green Option?

Francisco X. Aguilar

Assistant Professor
School of Natural Resources,
University of Missouri (USA)


Generating wood energy involves burning pellets, firewood and other types of wood or wood  derivatives. In the northern hemisphere, which includes most of UNECE’s member countries, wood is already the main source of renewable energy. While wood energy does emit carbon like other carbon-based fuels, forests can actually recycle the carbon emitted and turn it into new wood.  

Good and sustainable management can enhance forest environmental services, such as wildlife habitats. And selective cutting of timber for fuel helps reduce the intensity of wildfires.  Sustainable harvesting of wood for timber and energy can also improve forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities, issues that are very interesting for forest landowners. 

The practicality of using wood energy depends greatly on timber markets. Often, removing wood for energy is only financially feasible if it can be combined with harvesting timber products. 

There’s a close correlation between wood-energy consumption and harvesting levels by the wood-products industry. And the more timber harvested (at sustainable levels), the more carbon that stays fixed in the form of long-life products, such as houses or dining tables. 

Strengthening the timber-product industry might therefore be one of the most efficient approaches to increasing wood energy use!



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