Official information from public sources about forests in Serbia, most importantly from the national inventory from nine years ago, has a lot of discrepancy and data varies very much, even up to six times in some important categories, said Nenad Petrović, a docent at Faculty of Forestry in Belgrade. One of the main reasons, in his words, is inacurate records. The overall quality and age of Serbian forests isn’t at all favourable, and systematic conversion is necessary, Petrović said at the last round table of ‘Political awareness raising and networking events’, a component of the project ‘Development of a Sustainable Bioenergy Market in Serbia’, implemented by the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence and supported by German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ). The event in Belgrade’s Hyatt hotel covered possibilities and perspectives of biomass utilization.
Letters of commitment were signed with 10 municipalities in Serbia that want to substitute fossil fuels with biomass in district heating, said Rainer Schellhaas, manager of biomass supply component in a programme by German international cooperation enterprise GIZ.
Petrović also spoke of potentials that wood biomass has for a sustainable economic and social development and its environmental aspect. He stated that forests in private ownership, 47% of existing stock, have great potential. However, these are small units, in the range of three hectares, and even separated into several unregistered lots after inheritance, he said. Unfortunately, new generations aren’t interested in managing such a resource, especially if they move to towns and cities, Petrović added. One way forward would be for the government to develop measures to stimulate forest owners to organize into associations, he concluded.
The final conference, held in Belgrade on April 28, rounded and presented the conclusions from previous five roundtable. Over 60 people from business sector, state administration, local authorities, NGOs, media and scientific and professional environment attended the event and participated in one of four working groups.
One of the most important conclusions of the series of events is the need for the legal framework to be brought in line with public policies in order to enable the most efficient use of available biomass capacities and develop the potential for growing additional quantities of this energy source through cultivating energy crops.
The following four topics have been identified as the major problems in sustainable development of bioenergy market in Serbia: using biomass for heating in households and district heating systems – economic and energy efficiency, availability and potentials of sustainable forest biomass utilization in the future, public–private partnership and biomass utilization projects and energy poverty and population health.