Fuelwood Demand Goes Up as Cambodia Looks for Sustainable Uses

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Phnom Penh – The demand for fuelwood including firewood and charcoal has increased in Cambodia: Annual use is reaching 6 million tons, which is equivalent to the loss of more than 70,000 hectares of forest, according to a U.N. Development Programme’s (UNDP) press release issued Monday.

Calling the situation “alarming,” the UNDP said that about 0.8 million tons of firewood is used in the garment and brick-making industries, 1.8 million tons of firewood for household cooking while 3.5 million tons of charcoal is used for cooking in households and restaurants.

“The annual consumption of fuelwood has now reached about 6 million tons, equivalent to the annual loss of 71,600 hectares of deciduous forests,” the UNDP said in the release. “[I]t is an alarming concern that needs to be addressed not only for the sake of the sustainability of forests but also the human wellbeing.”

To tackle the issue, the UNDP has worked with its partners to develop an innovative digital platform for the Cambodian government to promote sustainable production and consumption of charcoal.

This new digital platform provides a traceability system, which captures charcoal production, logistics and sales management in selected communities, the release said. It also features an e-commerce function to improve efficiency in the entire value chain of charcoal, reduce transaction costs, and make sustainable charcoal more accessible to consumers.

According to the press release, this digital platform was successfully piloted in Pursat province under the supervision of the Forestry Administration at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Keo Omaliss, director general of the Forestry Administration, said that the project is truly contributing to the success of government programs such as the draft Production Forest Strategic Plan, the Agricultural Master Plan, and the Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals.

Nick Beresford, UNDP resident representative, said that this new digital platform can help promote sustainable production and consumption of fuelwood as well as sustainable community-forest management.

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