Firewood and the forests

The recent RSPB scare report that the expansion of wood-based energy in the UK will result in “swathes of forests overseas being logged” reminds me of the parallel debate in tropical forest countries.

The equivalent of a biomass power station in rural Africa and Asia is the household wood-burning cookstove, also widely condemned for its damaging wood consumption.

However, a major forest report published in June by the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists was scathing that “NGOs still claim that firewood is a major driver of deforestation.” Asserting that most firewood is dead material, UCS insists that “in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, firewood collection and trade is considered sustainable.”

This brought a swift blog response from The Center for People and Forests, a leading forest group working in the Asia-Pacific region: “it is a mistaken assumption that fuel wood collection activities are too small in scale to have significant impacts.”

This debate must be resolved because fuel-efficient stoves are the rage in development circles, many projects trying to hook themselves to a business model involving REDD-based carbon credits, for which reduced deforestation must be proven. Of course, forest carbon trading is another topic desperately seeking consensus…


this post was first published by OneWorld UK