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FAO sends out the wrong message on international forests day

More than 40 NGOs, including Fern, expressed dismay at the message that “wood is the fuel of the future”, which the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) chose as its theme for the International Day of Forests on 21 March 2017.

The International Day of Forests was established by the UN General Assembly five years ago to raise awareness of forests’ vital function in supporting life on earth. The FAO’s decision to highlight how woody biomass can be used to provide energy ignores the associated increase in carbon dioxide emissions and forest destruction. It also encourages the misperception that burning biomass is carbon neutral (FW223). The FAO’s statement was roundly criticised by the NGOs in an open letter to its Director General, José Graziano da Silva.

“[The] message ignores the serious negative impacts of growing bioenergy use on the environment, local communities, people’s health, the climate and, of course, forests,” the letter said. “The ongoing political push to significantly increase the use of forests as fuel for energy production – as an attempt to mitigate climate change – is based on flawed science and can create more problems than solutions.”