Environmental Conservation and Social Benefits of Charcoal Production in Mozambique

  • Articles in SCI Journals
  • Oct, 2018

Zorrilla Miras, P., Mahamane, M., Metzger, M., Baumert, S., Vollmer, F., Luz, A.C., Woollen, E., Sitoe, A., Patenaude, G., Nhantumbo, I., Ryan, C., Paterson, J., Matediane, M.J., Ribeiro, N. & Grundy, I. (2018) Environmental Conservation and Social Benefits of Charcoal Production in Mozambique.

Ecological Economics, 144, 100-111. DOI:10.1016/j.ecolecon.2017.07.028 (IF2018 4,281; Q1 Environmental Sciences)

Charcoal is an important source of energy and income for millions of people in Africa. Its production often drives forest degradation and deforestation which have impacts on the local people that remain poorly understood. We present a novel methodology for analysing the contribution of woodland ecosystem services (ES) to rural well-being and poverty alleviation, which takes into account access mechanisms to ES, trade-offs between ES, and human response options. Using a participatory approach, a set of land use change scenarios were translated into a probabilistic model that integrates biophysical and social data. Our findings suggest that in highly forested areas woodland degradation does not have a critical impact on the local use of the three ES studied: charcoal, firewood and grass. Social factors show the largest impact on the quantity of charcoal produced, e.g. female-headed households experience the greatest barriers to access charcoal production. Participating in forest associations and diversifying income activities lead to greater charcoal production. Results show that charcoal production increases some aspects of well-being (e.g. household assets), but does not decrease acute multidimensional poverty. Great efforts are required to reach a charcoal production system that alleviates poverty, improves environmental sustainability, and provides a reliable charcoal supply.