Sunday, October 10, 2010

About the energy crisis, forest cover and fuelwood!

Dear Colleagues

This is part of some discussion from the LinkedIn group Biochar Haiti

Otto Formo makes the case for better metrics along the lines of The Burgess Method (TBM) with great clarity. My response is what you might expect!
Group: Biochar Haiti
Discussion: Vetiver as a biofuel for Biochar

Dear Peter,

I very much agree that the costs of this activities has to be "sustainable" and to compete with the most common fuel of to day on Haiti, charcoal.

But when you know that the remaining forest of Haiti is lower than 3% of the original forestcover, there is no choice and the production of charcoal for household enrgy has to stop NOW.

Therefore,0 in short terms, we have to subsidize the change of fuel from charcoal to any type of pellets made out of dry biomass, even if it will "cost" more of to day it will benefit the people of Haiti in the long run.

This "turnover" process has to start to DAY, before its to late for the forest to recover and it will take decades to complete.

"The battle of Haiti" has just begun and one of the main focus should be to restore the forest cover "as soon as possible" and bring the people of Haiti back to the rural areas to cultivate their land in a sustainable manner using methods involveing biochar, if you like.

Even in the western world we seems to "forget" that we need to produce our own food and preferable based on local common knowledge and manpower.

"Small is beautiful", seems to be a usefull slogan from now on and in the future to come.

Posted by Otto Formo
This is my comment.
Dear Colleagues ... Otto

You make the case for value accounting very well. The Burgess Method (TBM) is all about getting some balance between making money and creating value. When TBM value chain analysis is done it is apparent that charcoal may be profitable but there is substantial value destruction.

I have worked in many developing countries ... more than 50 over almost as many years ... and the energy crisis is not that petroleum resources will run out in the future, but that firewood has already run out. Your figure of 3% of the forest cover left in Haiti is bigger than the 2% number I have been using!

The value chain analysis in TBM suggests that bringing back forest cover has huge value ... but not very much of the activities needed are able to make short run monetized profit. This means that the modern and quite foolish system of project analysis based on money return on investment will fail to allocate resources to activities that build forest cover ... at the same time that they will fund forest projects that extract timber from the forests!

The prevailing system of metrics is a global disgrace and must be changed. My hope is that TBM will help this to happen.

Peter Burgess

Posted by Peter Burgess

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