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Wood energy

Wood is a widely used resource that meets the daily needs of energy for cooking and heating homes for much of the Colombian population. While in developed countries and generally in urban areas of the world, the use of fossil fuels and other energy sources have relegated the role of wood as fuel, in developing countries and especially in rural areas, wood continues to play an important role. In Colombia the real participation of wood in the final consumption of all energy resources (oil, electricity, charcoal, coal, natural gas, and bagasse) is situated around 21% (Torres and Vallejo 1988).

Firewood is usually an easily accessible resource for people who live in the countryside, it can be collected and used with simple techniques, and it is even the only source of energy for farmers, indigenous peoples & the poorest inhabitants as well as being an important alternative energy source at city level. However, due to high rates of deforestation, which in Colombia in the last 25 years has fluctuated between 300,000 and 600,000 ha / year (Fundación Natura 2000), the rapid expansion of the agricultural and livestock production, coupled with population growth and rural poverty, our country faces shortages in the supply of firewood (Montalembert and Clement 1983, Torres and Vallejo 1988, Beaumont 2001).

In cases where the shrub cover is not enough to meet the needs of the rural and urban areas, the pressure on woody biomass for the obtainment of fuel has a negative impact on environmental balance and economic and social well-being of dependent users of these sources. In the Andean area, for example, the high concentration of human population, with makes up between 70 and 80% of the total concentration of the country and the intensive use of natural resources has generated a great impact on the biodiversity of this region. Thus, the effect of deforestation, over 30% of the country’s wild forest cover has been destroyed (Fundación Natura 2000). The oak (Quercus humboldtii) is one of the most threatened habitats in the northern Andes and houses one of the most critically endangered and specialized avifauna of the region.

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