An Overview of Wood Energy Development in Cambodia and Appropriate Policy Options

Type Working Paper
Title An Overview of Wood Energy Development in Cambodia and Appropriate Policy Options
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2000
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a country of 11.4 million people, growing at an annual rate of 2.4%. Rural areas are
home to 84% of the population, although the urban areas are the regions of most rapid growth. Over half the
population is female, and the rate of dependency is high, with 53% of the population below 18 years of age (MoP
Conventional energy is supplied almost entirely from imported petroleum products. Its contribution to energy
consumption is increasing in percentage terms following growth in the commercial and industrial sectors, and a
rapid rise in demand from the transport sector. Firewood and charcoal are often referred to as traditional fuels, yet
they remain the dominant source of energy for cooking within the domestic sector, and are used extensively by
industry and services, as well as the expanding informal sector. Despite widespread recognition of wood fuel
consumption, wood energy development is not viewed as a high priority.
The last forest inventory was conducted in 1969, and at that time, forests covered 73% of the total land area.
Estimates of current forest cover vary considerably, although 58.6% (MRC/GTZ 1997) is adopted by the
Department of Forestry. Stock and yield tables are not available for any land types. Land tenure and land use
rights remain constraints for sustainable forest management, and wood energy development in general.
Economic growth is generally linked to an increase in income, which is expected to lead to an increase in demand
for conventional fuels such as LPG and electricity. Whilst a higher consumption of LPG has been observed in highincome
households within urban areas, it is used to complement wood fuels. Energy transitions are limited by
financial and spatial constraints, leaving the majority of the country's population reliant on wood fuels. Combined
with rapid population growth, demand for wood energy is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future. It is therefore
increasingly important to recognise the contribution of wood energy within the national energy balance, and to plan
for a continued and sustainable supply.
Since 1997, the Departments of Energy and Forestry, and the Ministry of Environment have been working in
cooperation to promote the relevance of wood energy development and planning. However, outside this core
team, misconceptions about wood energy abound particularly in relation to deforestation, energy transitions, and
the value of wood fuels. Given the current policy trends of banning wood-cutting and use, the encouragement of
LPG use, and the ongoing policy reviews, it is essential to examine and clarify certain issues and
misunderstandings, in order to ensure the selection of appropriate policy options for wood energy development.

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