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KjuonGo saves rainforests in Cambodia by producing sustainable charcoal


Charcoal is commonly used as a cooking fuel in Cambodia and around the world. The KjuonGo Project, financed by NDF through the Nordic Climate Facility, has looked for a sustainable alternative to reduce the negative impact on rainforests.

KjuonGo is an innovative initiative focused on producing sustainable charcoal as a viable alternative to the traditional charcoal, which is made from illegally logged wood in Cambodia’s rainforests. Sustainable charcoal is a biofuel that can be produced in a viable way if its wood basis is sourced in a sustainably managed forest.  

Community forests contribute to supplying wood for the project. Photo: KjuonGo

Positive results for our climate

The project has had significant milestones throughout the years of its operation. It had substantial influence on Cambodia’s National Forestry Administration’s approach to sustainable charcoal production, combatting illegal logging and reversing the current deforestation trends.  As an impressive result, sustainable charcoal production is now mentioned in Cambodia’s 2020 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). This means more tangible climate action on a national level.

During the scaling up phase of the project, over 20 community forests joined KjuonGo to supply wood. The initiative uses a smartphone-based app that tracks the wood from the community forest to the end consumer. This aims to ensure sustainable supply chain management.

“We were happy to be part of this project also because we received a training on climate change. Now we know what it means to the planet," says Mr Ton Sarim, who lives in a community forest in Cambodia.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the project achieved great results. Photo: KjuonGo

Impact on local communities

Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the project has been life-changing to local communities. In addition to protecting nature, it has also showed great potential for gender balanced job creation in the charcoal production industry.  

“Thanks to the additional income generated from the sales of sustainable wood, we can employ more people to patrol and protect the forest,” says Mr. Sot Ton from the Pursat community forest.

KjuonGo is a prime example of finding sustainable solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation. It has proved that sustainable charcoal is a viable alternative in regions, where charcoal is the most important cooking fuel, and where the shift to zero-emission electricity will not happen immediately. The test phase of KjuonGo achieved emissions reduction of about 1000 tCO2e. On a global scale, the potential could be millions of tons on an annual basis. The project has now come to its end, but the operations and making a positive impact continues through the already established work.

NDF, through the Nordic Climate Facility, supported the scaling up phase of the KjuonGo project with a 500,000 EUR grant in 2019-2022. The project collaborated also with UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre, GERES and Khmer Green Charcoal in Cambodia.

Read more on the project at UNEP Copenhagen Climate Centre:

Sustainable charcoal saves rainforests

Milestone for sustainable charcoal in Cambodia

Sustainable BBQ