07.09.2015 The DEBEG bioenergy conflict database a tool for research and conflict resolution?

17.9.2015 at 16:02

Maxim Trishkin

Thus, Debeg bioenergy database is a platform for identification, analysis and discussion of bioenergy conflicts. So, it is a practical tool which could be used for research and educational purposes. Shortly I will describe why it is so.

World demographic situation since 1950 the population of the planet has increase from 2 to over 7 billion people, as it could be seen from the right graph the energy consumption was increasing gradually, 2 fold during the last 50 years. Even though the role of biofuels is quite modest now. At the same time, its proportion in global energy consumption during last 15 years has increased 8-folds. Preconditions for using the bioenergy are obvious – climate change mitigation, distribution of risks on energy dependency (especially for the countries, which are lacking own fossil fuels – coal, gas, oil etc.), policy implementations (EU strategy 20-20-20), and its implementation in EU countries. One local example from Northern Karelia (Finland) on implementation of EU strategy and decreasing dependency from imported energy, 65% of  energy both electric and for heating produced from renewable sources (woody biomass).

The question of acceptance of bioenergy by locals and other interested parties is essential. Therefore the communication of potential investments with stakeholders and various feasibility studies (including socio-ecological assessments are essential). One of the bottlenecks in relation to any bioenergy plan is society in generally may support the idea of bioenergy, but when it comes to implementation quite often the phenomena “not in my back yard” pops up in mind of general public. Example on the photo below, when ordinary citizens in US are protesting against massive cuttings for energy purposes and shipping it to EU countries.

In our database, UK is the leading country in EU in number of bioenergy conflicts. Most of currently functioning or planed bioenergy plants in UK are using imported raw material (pellets, wood chips etc.) from different part of the world (North America, Latin America and Asian countries). From the ordinary people’s point of view the imported biomass is a threat to the economy due to huge subsidies given by the government to the bioenergy plants, the carbon footprint is very high dues to long transportation (questionable point) and it causes the destruction of tropical forests since the origin of imported raw material is not always known.

The www.debeg.org is not just a database, it is platform for identification, analysis and discussion of the bioenergy conflicts with interested parties. Besides the database itself, the portal includes also educational materials in related topics, learning centre, blog (which is updated frequently on bioenergy topics, AND YOU MORE THAN WELCOME TO READ AND COMMENT ON IT IF INTERESTED). Separate section is also devoted to videos and images sections. In addition, the spatially explicit database itself. Up to now we have 124 cases worldwide. The methodology and analysis part is presented on the slide.

The spatially explicit outlook is essestial. The cases presented in the database are of 2 types, the point data with the red flag and blue flag represented by polygon data.

The slide presents the distribution of bioenergy cases in the database across the world. Thus, majority of the cases are in Europe (66 cases), the further distribution of the conflicts by the continents is derived. High number of conflicts does not necessary means that actual number of conflicts is higher than for instance in Africa, Asia or Latin America. It might be the case that the information on conflicts either better described in Europe due to openness of media and democratisation of general public. However, this might be discussed.

It is hard to make any direct conclusions if the number of conflicts in the single country is correlated with level of acceptance or if raw material import dependent countries also tend to have more conflicts. I believe that role of media and acceptance of society plays not the last role in this context.

It is worth of noticing the distribution of bioenergy conflicts along the production value chain. As we already know from above, most of identified bioenergy conflicts are in Europe (over 50%) from all the identified cases, most of them are on the bioenergy mill side (90%), and only 10% represents polygon data, which mainly related to forest concession or private forests. It may be caused by level of acceptance of local residents, opposition of huge subsidies by the government or ongoing public debate regarding the long-distance transportation of bio based raw material. Whereas in Africa, Latin America and Asia it is more related directly to bioenergy resource on the place (forest concession) and as a results direct poaching of livelihoods of local people, inequity in distribution of rights to use resources or something similar. The database contains 124 bioenergy cases starting from 1990s, as it can be seen from the graph about 60% of the bioenergy conflict at the moment are ongoing.

 I would like to emphasize that the historically and geographically the bioenergy development has started from various point in different parts of the world. Therefore, the general trend in bioenergy conflict types will be differ. In EU it is related to bioenergy governance in general. Asia – land use conflict and so on. It was also very interesting to identify the most influential stakeholders based on their repetition in the conflicts. Seemingly, the role of NGOs is very strong now, and they are the main watchdogs of most of the conflicts. They role in consolidation of local people is also very strong.








tag_blue conflicts, database, debeg, bioenergy



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Maxim Trishkin

Maxim Trishkin


The status of bioenergy in Republic of Karelia

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