Thursday, March 7, 2013
Scientists Develop a Methodology to Determine the Damage from the Extraction of Firewood
Scientists at the Centers of Environmental Geography (CIGA) and Ecosystems (CIEco) from the Autonomous National University of México (UNAM) in conjunction with the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies are developing a geospatial and statistical methodology to determine the damage to the environment from the extraction of firewood. This methodology will have global, regional and Local applications which will be used to map the potential environmental impacts of firewood extraction for charcoal in 90 different countries scattered across Asia, Africa and Latin America.
The project is being funded by the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) and the Yale Institute for Biospheric Studies (YIBS). The project was launched in December 2012 with an expected completion date of November 2014.
The UNAM website states that the purpose of the project is to “Evaluate the implications of fuel wood harvesting for residential end-use in local land cover and global climate. In particular, building a geospatial dynamic model to render a better quantitative estimate of fuel wood-driven forest degradation at the landscape level. The core questions being explored with the geospatial modeling technique are: How much wood fuel is being harvested at a given location within a specific time frame? How does the vegetation respond to this pressure, as measured by its above ground biomass stock and growth rate? And finally, How do changes in wood fuel demand (for example, through the dissemination of fuel-conserving stoves) alter this harvest-regrowth pattern in time?
This program is especially important because most of the deforestation taking place in the world occurs in tropical areas of the developing world of which Latin America is firmly situated.
In a recent interview with the newspaper “La Jornada”, the project director Adrian Ghilardi, had this to say about the project. "The project will allow us to understand the impact of improved stoves for cooking, fuel substitution as well as changing land cover and use, and estimate the compensation in terms of emissions of greenhouse gases associated with such interventions ".
More than a quarter of the world´s population has no access to electricity and 2/5 of the world´s population still rely mainly on traditional biomass for their basic energy needs…..or in other words: Firewood.
Tropical areas are being deforested at a rate of roughly 20 million hectares per year. Tropical forests take much longer to regenerate than temperate forests so in terms of planetary health; tropical deforestation is much more destructive. The same can be said for the wet/dry forests which are common throughout México. The figure of 20 million hectares only includes land being clear cut for agriculture and urbanization and does not include lands which are being illegally poached such as is the case when local peoples chop down trees to collect firewood. That is why this study is particularly important. Providing data where none existed previously, this study will allow scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders to get a more focused idea of what is happening as well provide the information necessary to create strategies in which to better manage land resources and protect the environment.