Friday, 25 January 2013

Savanna Study Highlights African Fuelwood Crisis

Jan. 17, 2013 — The dwindling reserves of fuelwood in Africa have been illuminated in a new study published January 18, which shows a bleak outlook for supplies across savannas in South Africa.

Presenting their findings in IOP Publishing's journal Environmental Research Letters, researchers have found that at current consumption levels in the communal areas of Lowveld, South Africa, reserves of fuelwood could be totally exhausted within 13 years.

The consequences are significant, with around half of the 2.4 million rural households in the country using wood as their primary fuel source, burning between four and seven million tonnes per year.

Consumption of fuelwood is greater across the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, which includes countries significantly less developed than South Africa -- around 80 per cent of households rely on fuelwood as their primary energy source.

The researchers measured the amount of biomass currently covering the study areas using the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) -- an aircraft loaded with state-of-the-art imaging systems (funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation).

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