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Challenging the Woodfuel Crisis in West African Woodlands

Sofie Louise Hansfort and Ole Mertz
Human Ecology
Vol. 39, No. 5 (OCTOBER 2011), pp. 583-595
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41474637
Page Count: 13
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Challenging the Woodfuel Crisis in West African Woodlands
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Abstract

Fear of an upcoming woodfuel crisis caused by increasing woodfuel consumption in Bamako has had great influence on forestry policies aiming to reduce the impacts of urban woodfuel consumption. During the last 20 years, energy gap analyses—the relationship between supply and demand of woodfuels—have been produced by the government of Mali to prove the impacts of woodfuel consumption in Bamako on surrounding woodlands. This study evaluates the methodology and data used to describe this woodfuel crisis through a comparison with regional and historical data. The results of the energy gap analyses are challenged by using different estimates of woody resource availability and woodfuel consumption to create best and worst case scenarios. These show either high surpluses or high deficits with a difference of 2.7 million tons/yr. The woodfuel system of Bamako is highly dynamic and it is very difficult to evaluate its sustainability using a simple methodology such as the energy gap analysis. Trends over the last 20 years show a highly efficient woodfuel system that has adapted to changing circumstances, ensuring a continued affordable woodfuel supply for the urban residents. Better data on the productivity of West African woodlands and urban consumption are needed to avoid misinterpretations of the impacts of woodfiiel harvesting on woody resources.

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