Energy from forests

Forests and trees are a vital natural resource upon which people rely for firewood, shelter and to power machinery and industrial activities. In recent years, a modern form of energy derived from biomass, known as bioenergy, has become more common. Currently, typical sources of biomass include crops, natural forests and managed tree plantations and agricultural crops. In the future, new technologies are likely to produce fuel from a wider range of materials, including algae.

Globally, some 2.5 billion people use traditional biomass, such as wood and charcoal, for cooking and heating. It can also be converted into heat, electricity and liquid fuels.

Bioenergy as substitution of fossil fuels and carbon storage can reduce greenhouse gas emissions because the carbon released from biomass burring can be recaptured during plant growth. However, depending on the location and choice of species, it may take decades for emissions from bioenergy to be absorbed.It offers the potential to sustainably meet growing energy needs with the added benefits of restoring degraded land and providing food and livelihoods for local communities.

Pongamia pinnata

Pongamia pinnata, (syn. Millettia pinnata), also known as the malapari or karanja tree, has a large native distribution in Asia and Australia. The species is also cultivated in Africa, the United States, and other countries. Recent research has shown the tree has great potential for reforesting damaged or degraded landscapes. The tree grows well in humid and subtropical environments, and its dense root network and thick taproot make it drought tolerant.

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Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu tree)

Also known as nyamplung or the tamanu tree, Calophyllum inophyllum is a pantropical species tree found in 38 countries stretching from East Africa to Southeast Asia, Oceania, and the South Pacific.

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Cerbera manghas

Cerbera manghas, also known as a sea mango or bintaro in Indonesia, is naturally distributed from the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean eastward to French Polynesia.

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Ceiba pentandra

Ceiba pentandra, or kapok tree or Java kapok, is native to central and South America and tropical Africa but is also widely cultivated throughout the tropics, especially in the rainforests of southeast Asia.

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Aleurites moluccanus

Aleurites moluccanus, or the candlenut tree, is native to subtropical and tropical Asia as well in the Australian state of Queensland.

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Azadirachta indica

Azadirachta indica, also known as the neem tree or Indian lilac, is a tropical evergreen with wide adaptability. Native to India and Burma, the tree has been transplanted to Africa, the Middle East, South America and Australia.

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Vitex pubescens

A tree species of the Lamiaceae family, Vitex pubescens originated from South and East Asia. Well-distributed in several countries, including India, Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand.

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Croton megalocarpus Hutchinson

Croton megalocarpus is a widespread species in Africa, occurring from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo to Uganda from Kenya to Zambia and Mozambique.

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Euphorbia tirucalli

Euphorbia tirucalli, also known as fire sticks or the pencil tree or the milk cactus, is present in all the world’s tropical parts and is common throughout its range.

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The information provided in this article is not peer-reviewed and is not intended as advice. It is based on current knowledge and the available literature. CIFOR and partner organizations do not provide any guarantees and recommend interested stakeholders undertake further independent assessments and verifications before making business and investment decisions.