Firewood in dry woodlands

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Written by: John P. Rafferty

Dry woodlands

The fourth area of desertification is dry woodlands, which are greatly affected by the overconsumption of firewood. Across large areas of Asia and Africa, the principal raw material for cooking and heating is wood. Firewood in these areas is often converted to charcoal in earthen kilns before it is used, because charcoal gives off less smoke than wood. The conversion process is often inefficient, however, with about 75 percent of the wood’s heating potential lost. In Africa and Asia a very rough estimate of the per capita consumption of firewood is about half a ton per year.

Across large areas of dryland where total plant production is roughly two tons per hectare per year, a family of four would have to clear a hectare of land or more per year. Very often, such deforested areas are not replanted. As human population densities increase, one can imagine that they might consume more wood than the land could support and create a “fuelwood crisis.”

Read the full article: Encyclopedia Britannica

Improved biomass stoves to save firewood

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Tanzania: Biomass Stoves Can Save Our Forests

Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)


A RESEARCH done recently in some districts has revealed that successful use of the constructed 13,301 improved biomass stoves (6,651 household each with two stoves) in Tanzania can reduce firewood consumption from 39,906 cubic m through using unimproved stove to 19,952 cubic m.

The monetary value for the wood saved per annum based on current firewood prices in Kwimba, Ukerewe and Moshi district (200,000/- per cubic m) is around 2.5bn/- or 1,256,945 US dollars.

Mr Bariki Kaale says that reduction of 19,952 cubic m of firewood from the pilot villages can minimise firewood harvesting from woodlands that could result to conservation of over 998 ha of woodlands.

Women groups interviewed confirmed that the stoves have provided various tangible benefits contributing to rapid improvement of their livelihood. Some of the benefits stated include reduction of firewood collection and use.

With 3 stone stove, the women reported that they used to collect at least two head loads of firewood (each weighing around 25-30 kg) and using around 8 hours per round trip or 16 hours per week.

Now they are collecting only one head load of firewood per week hence saving almost 50 per cent of firewood and around 8 hours.

This confirms that the improved biomass stoves have reduced smoke in the kitchen hence reducing indoor pollution. Depending on kitchen management, cooking time for most food types has been reduced by around 40 per cent, while incidences of children burns in the kitchen have also been reduced.