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Mapping Illegal Logging and Timber Trade

Promoting sustainable environmental solutions to tackle energy poverty in Bulgaria

Illegal logging, timber trade, deforestation and energy poverty are pressing challenges for Bulgaria. Despite government efforts to combat these problems, they remain widespread phenomena, leading to lower potential for carbon sequestration with severe environmental and climate impacts. The use of firewood by around a quarter of the Bulgarian population testifies to the inability of many households to adequately heat their homes, or cover their utility bills.

The rise of living standards and the expansion of electricity use for heating have cut in half the use of biomass, as well as overall energy poverty in the past decade. Yet, the Bulgarian government should deploy much more encompassing measures to support vulnerable energy consumers and boost energy efficiency. Meanwhile, by providing incentives to households to phase out firewood use and by implementing measures to improve the tracking of logging activities, the government will accelerate the growth rate of Bulgarian forests, bringing Bulgaria one step closer to climate neutrality.

The current report attempts to map the role that biomass plays in the Bulgarian energy system; measures the extent of illegal logging and timber trade; assesses the structure of the firewood market; and discusses the pathway to decarbonisation via a long-term forest management strategy.

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