Pakistan is already meeting 30% of its energy requirements from biomass whose consumption is increasing at the average rate of over 5% per annum. This is due to increase in population and not due to change of any trend in energy consumption. The population that uses biomass as main source of energy lives in rural areas, small towns, and suburbs of the cities. The women and children spend most of their time in collecting woods and shrubs to meet their energy demands. About 61% of biomass users living in rural areas, collect biomass for their use and only 29% buy wood. In urban areas, 84% of biomass consumers buy and only 12% of these collect wood for their living.
As about 70% of the Pakistan population lives in rural areas, so majority of biomass users does not pay for their energy use. Nevertheless wood trading is quite a business in the country and many families live on this business of cutting, processing, transportation, and selling fuel wood. In 1991 the total trade in this sector in estimated to be 10% of Pakistan net export. This shows that wood-fuel is an important commercial commodity. In spite of this fact, wood-fuel or biomass is completely neglected in the national energy policies. In fact wood trading is not considered as commercial activity and there is hardly any data available in about the sector. This lack of interest at the state level is encouraging the inefficient use of biomass, with all health risks and fast deforestation resulting changes in bio-diversity. The issue that needs serious thought for a sound plan of action to increase the forest area and develop technologies to use biomass in more scientifically efficient and environmentally benign ways.
Unfortunately Pakistan is among those countries where deforestation rate is among the highest in the world and hence badly affecting the ecosystem and causing biological diversity. Only 28% of the Pakistan land is green area under forests, pastures and crops where as 72% of the land is being used for housing and as barren land. Quite a large part of this is low areas, kachi, and delta that is no good for agriculture, and can be used for energy crops.
So there is the need to adopt a strategy to develop biomass technologies to get benefit from this renewable, cheap, and carbon neutral energy source.