HIGHLIGHTS ON WOOD CHARCOAL: 2004-2009
By Mr Florian Steierer, Forestry Officer (Wood Energy), FAO Forestry Department
Data source: FAOSTAT-ForesSTAT, released on 12 January 2011
The global production of wood charcoal was estimated at 47 million metric tonnes in 2009 and increased by 9% since 2004. This development is being very strongly influenced by Africa. Africa is the
region with the by far most important production, accounting for 63% of global production. Charcoal production boosted in Africa by almost 30% since 2004, extended Africa’s global lead (see Table 1).
The region of Latin America and the Caribbean shows an opposite trend compared to Africa. Charcoal ...view middle of the document...
Thus global production of charcoal represents about 280 million m³ in roundwood (wood fuel)
equivalent (about 6 m³ of woodfuel are needed to produce 1 tonne of charcoal). Thus, about 15%
of global wood fuel production is converted to charcoal. The share of wood fuel converted to charcoal increased continuously and reached its highest share ever in 2008. In Africa, about 30% of the
wood fuel is being used for charcoal production.
Two reasons may explain the increasing share of charcoal production from wood fuel:
a) Charcoal production is often an integral part using processing residues in countries with a
highly developed wood processing industry. The converted wood residues have not been
classified as wood fuel and are only added in the statistic. These production facilities are often modern industrial retort kilns with high efficiencies. Efficiencies can be even so high,
that the conversion factor of 6 m³ roundwood per tonne of charcoal produced might
slightly overestimate the amount of wood required. Charcoal from industrial kilns is often
used for chemical appliances, barbeque or steel production.
b) Charcoal is the cooking fuel of urban dwellers in developing countries, rather than fuelwood. Increasing urbanisation rates could therefore explain the steep increase of wood
fuel conversion to charcoal notably in Africa. Traditional earth kilns are often used for charcoal production in developing countries. These are archaic and inefficient and the conversion factor of 6 m³...