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AFO - Activating private forest owners to increase forest energy supply (AFO)

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The AFO project operated in 5 selected target regions with vast private forest ownership (France, Slovenia, Latvia and UK). The project aimed to activate private forest owners to supply more wood fuel for an increasing demand of small and medium scale users. The main target groups were private forest owners, wood fuel users, forestry entrepreneurs, harvesting contractors, and regional authorities.First, PFOs interested in wood fuel supply in the target regions were identified. Barriers to the production of wood fuel by private forest owners (PFOs) were also surveyed. Second, the current and future potential of the wood fuel supply in the target regions was studied. Third, the current and future potential of wood fuel consumption in the target regions was analysed. Fourth, sub-regional wood fuel supply clusters were established and developed through workshops, study tours and face-to-face meetings. Fifth, co-operation between wood fuel suppliers and users was implemented by bringing stakeholders together, and thus matching demand with supply. In addition, practical training for selected stakeholders was organized in Austria and Finland. In general, best practise knowledge from more experienced wood fuel countries, Finland and Austria, was transferred. Finally, through effective dissemination on both local and European wide levels, PFOs were activated to provide more wood fuel in non-partner countries. Through EU-wide dissemination, the proven activation methods and supply chain models will support the ambitious energy and climate policies of the whole EU-27.


  • Clarified picture on the European private forest owners' challenges and possibilities for increased forest fuel supply
  • A change in the behaviour of PFOs for increased supply and use of forest fuel from undermanaged forests, which require thinning and cleaning
  • 23 clusters were formed and 15 more clusters are to be established in the near future. This corresponds to approximately 27,000 ha of woodland being brought into active management and 120,000 solid-m3 of wood fuel being supplied for markets.
  • 26 MW of new capacity was installed with the support of the AFO project and another 19 MW will be installed in the near future.
  • Best practice woodfuel supply and cluster models created and adopted into other 10 countries by 2015

Lessons learned

  • Small size of the forest holdings: The average size of a forest holding is just a few hectares in many countries. Due to the small size, the forest holding is not considered to be an actual investment. Basically, the bigger the forest holding the more actively it is being utilized.
  • Because forest holdings are small, many forest owners do not live near their forest, and many owners are old, activating of PFO’s takes a long time. In addition to economic or silvicultural encouragement it is necessarily to motivate PFO’s to supply wood fuel with other reasons as well, for example addressing climate and environmental issues and providing help in wood sales and harvesting.
  • There is a need for further on-going support to the wood fuel supply chain sector and the PFO’s. A good momentum started in AFO should be maintained by providing continuity and consistency in regional support, for example by follow-up of PFO’s and potential investors and further local adaptation of the AFO working model. Last updated 29.11.2012

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01/10/2009 to 30/09/2012
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