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Sustainable charcoal traceability for enhanced forest protection and community livelihoods in Cambodia

Cambodia relies on wood fuels, such as firewood, charcoal and sawdust, to meet its energy demand. Charcoal production alone provides income to more than 80,000 farmers.

As people continue to migrate to the country’s urban centers, the consumption of charcoal is expected to remain high.

charcoal burning 2017However, Cambodia has the highest rate of deforestation in Southeast Asia (according to FAO findings). Continued demand for wood fuels will only lead to increased pressure on forest ecosystems.

Sustainable charcoal production and consumption technologies and practices are therefore urgently needed.

With the support of UNEP-DTU, GERES is providing technical assistance to the Royal Government of Cambodia for the development of a sustainable charcoal sector. In parallel, GERES is also supporting the creation of the Cambodian Sustainable Charcoal Producers Association.

However, the production of sustainable charcoal has not been able to compete with that of illegal charcoal. One of the main barriers is the inability to differentiate between sustainably sourced and illegally sourced (and sold at a very low price) charcoal.

PEFC and charcoal traceability

To ensure the traceability of sustainable charcoal, Chain of Custody certification needs to be developed. This is where the 2017 PEFC Collaboration Fund project comes in.

We are supporting GERES (Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity) as they leverage Chain of Custody certification of sustainable charcoal in order to enhance forest protection and community livelihoods.

The project will begin by building the capacity of the Forestry Administration, enabling them to contribute to the development of a sustainable charcoal certification system.

They will then pilot a smartphone-based Chain of Custody labelling system for sustainable charcoal, in collaboration with the Forestry Administration, communities and the private sector.

Finally, the project aims to develop the market for certified sustainable charcoal. Project partners will raise awareness of certification and the label among charcoal retailers and consumers.

Implementing organization

GERES (Group for the Environment, Renewable Energy and Solidarity) has been providing sustainable and energy-efficient solutions to improve the livelihoods and economic empowerment of vulnerable populations since 1976.

Project partners

RECOFTC - The Center for People and Forests

PEFC Certified

Forests area: 304 million ha
Forest owners: > 750,000
Companies (CoC): > 19,800

(as of September 2017)
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