Dare to Explore! Experience: The potential of woody biomass and new ideas for a professional career

I´m Ajdin Starčević from Bosnia and Herzegovina. From February to April, I have been a Dare to Explore! Trainee with CIFOR in Bonn, Germany. The scope of the traineeship was to assess the effective potential of woody biomass for energy production (WB4E) in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina working closely with my supervisors Christopher Martius (CIFOR) and Dietmar Stojan (ICRAF).

Through the research we addressed several important aspects regarding the use of WB4E such as to see what political and legal factors, as laws, policies and regulations, favor or hamper the use of woody biomass for energy in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina and what are the institutions that would support WB4E and how would they support it? To assess the actual potential, we were interested in how much land is effectively available to produce WB4E in each country. Aside from that, we were curious about current trends in woody biomass production in terms of location, goods, actors involved, and markets, as well as the current WB4E debate in each country regarding actual and potential opponents. Finally, we wanted to know what supporting circumstances would have to improve for WB4E to ensure a rapid and effective scaling in both countries.

The report was done as a desk study by reviewing current available literature on the topic. Besides this, information and data were acquired through contact with experts in the field in the two countries. We concentrated on five main areas of focus including political and legal issues, institutional issues, environmental issues, socio-economic issues, and land availability. It was an interesting experience because the concept of WB4E is novel in the Western Balkans and not much research has been done on the topic, so at the same time it was hard work but also rewarding.

When I started this traineeship, I did not have a lot of knowledge regarding this aspect of forestry. I always considered myself more interested in the natural side of the profession, such as silviculture and ecology but this opportunity broadened my perspectives regarding my future professional career.

Even though the traineeship was organized remotely it was still a very interesting and enjoyable experience. I was working from the EFI headquarters in Joensuu, which enabled me to feel the office working environment. I had weekly online meetings with my supervisors back in Bonn and they were a source of endless help through the entire traineeship, which greatly benefited me.