Expert Consultation: Sustainable Charcoal Production, Trade and Use in Europe 5 - 6 June 2007, Zagreb, Croatia

First Announcement for the Expert Consultation: Sustainable Charcoal Production, Trade and Use in Europe 5 - 6 June 2007, Zagreb, Croatia
Miguel Trossero, FAO, March 24, 2007

Response Form (Attached)
Please return this form by e-mail or fax, to the address given below, by March 1, 2007.

ENERGY INSTITUTE (attn Mr Velimir Segon)
PP 141, HR-10001 Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: +385 1 6326 158, Fax: +385 1 6040 599


This Expert Consultation is organized within the FAO TCP project Development of a sustainable charcoal industry, the objective of which is to provide technical assistance for the preparation of a modernization and revitalization programme for the charcoal industry of Croatia.


The charcoal production process has been known since the Bronze Age, and was vital to metallurgy until the discovery of the conversion of coal to coke at the beginning of the 18th century. In more recent times, charcoal has remained a technologically important material, primarily as a result of its adsorptive properties. However, in Brazil, which lacks adequate coking coal resources, most of the charcoal produced is still used to reduce iron ore. In the United States 95 % of charcoal use is for barbecuing, while in Japan and Europe charcoal use is split evenly between cooking and industrial needs. According to the FAO’s statistical data the world’s largest charcoal consumption prevails in African countries. In most African countries charcoal is the primary energy source for cooking, as well as major source of income generation, and, often, also a cause of environmental degradation.

Historically the massive production of charcoal (at its height employing hundreds of thousands, mainly in Alpine and neighbouring forests) has been a major cause of deforestation, especially in Central Europe, but to a lesser extent even before, as in Stuart England. The increasing scarcity of easily harvested wood was a major factor for the switch to the fossil-fuel equivalents, mainly coal and brown coal for industrial use. The challenge to ensure sustainable biomass supply chain for modern charcoal production still exists.

Today, we observe a growing demand for biomass fuels, both for barbecue markets and the utility dominated market for distributed heat and power. The latter market is often supported directly or indirectly under subsidies for renewable energies or CO2 emission trade schemes. At the same time, the under-utilization of resources in the forestry sector of the countries in transition, and a lag of investments in the wood processing industries, offer a wide scope of potential responses to the growing demand.


The Workshop aims at collecting the state of knowledge and at answering the questions faced by governments and industries on how to address their opportunities. Issues are:
• Charcoal trade and sustainability
How is the trade flows of charcoal into/from and within Europe? Do we sustainable maintain the resource base?
What are the sustainable opportunities for Croatia, EU member states and other countries?
Is non-sustainability of charcoal exports from Asia and Africa into Europe an issue? If so, how can it be addressed?
Do modern technologies make the charcoal industry a competitive trade? What type of technology is now available for modern charcoal industry?

• The role of subsidies
What are the implications of the subsidized trade in biomass fuels (both nationally, and cross-border), for the charcoal industry in particular and for national economies in general?

• Cross-cutting issues
Can the charcoal industry contribute to sustainable developments in other economic sectors? E.g.: fuel substitution (charcoal for coal or furnace oil), sustainable electricity as a by product of the industry? What role should public sectors play for the development of a sustainable charcoal production in Croatia/Europe?


Prior to the Workshop, a Background Technical Document and Agenda will be sent for information by the organisers to the Expert Consultation participants. This Expert Consultation will be organised in such a way that instead of a sequence of presentation, a large space will be given to interactive technical discussions.

Expected outcome

The outcome of the Expert Consultation will be summarized in proceedings prepared by organisers based on the inputs provided by the participants.


The Workshop is intended to include 20 international participants and a limited number of Croatian stakeholders from national charcoal industry. Experts will be invited from EU countries or regions active in production and use of charcoal, specialised UN and EU agencies and institution and wider scientific community.

Of special interest for this meeting is expertise related to:
- industrialised production of charcoal in EU,
- solid biomass and charcoal trade and transport,
- market development trends and opportunities.


Dr Julije Domac -
Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar, Zagreb, Croatia

Dr Miguel Trossero -
FAO, Rome, Italy

Jointly co-organised with Energy Institute Hrvoje Pozar
Supported by Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republic of Croatia

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