Improved charring kilns allow the controlled burning of the bio-wastes. They are less hazardous in terms of fire and particulate matter.
Photo: Niraj Acharya

05.07.2019

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Invasive forest plants which are usually wasted can be a good source of renewable energy if converted into bio-charcoal. In Nepal, together with partners, Helvetas has developed a private sector-led business model that above all benefits the disadvantaged members of the Community Forest User Groups – through better health, higher income and an enhanced social status.

In 2016, as much as 76 per cent of Nepal’s energy requirement was met through ­biofuel and wastes. The felling of trees for firewood and charcoal has had a heavy toll on the country’s rich forest resources. The conversion of the forests’ vast amount of regenerative ground vegetation into carbon rich bio-charcoal could represent an alternative to meet energy demand. Using regenerative forest wastes to produce bio-charcoal would not only help with import substitution of fossil fuel such as coal, liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene, albeit in small amounts, and save the outflow of foreign currencies, it would also create income opportunities for the poor and the disadvantaged while contributing to forest health. Starting in 2014, Helvetas Nepal worked with a set of private value chain actors to build up a sustainable bio-charcoal business model. The four-year initiative has contributed to the management of over 17,500 hectares of forest in 111 community forests.

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