Sustainable Charcoal Production
The woodfuel industry holds potential to reduce rural poverty through
employment generation and ability to increase households’ income as
well as decrease global deforestation and improve environmental
sustainability if production technology improves and the industry
is regulated. This however, could be achieved by providing a platform
necessary to develop multiple scales of partnerships and encourage
coordinated state policy on the woodfuel value chain.
This is the overall goal of our Sustainable woodfuel project in Ghana.
Woodfuel in the form of charcoal is the most common fuel and important
economic and social factor that generates employment, income and
sustains village life for many people particularly youth and women in
Sub-Saharan Africa. However, challenges associated with the production
of woodfuel is having far reaching consequences on the social
well-being and environmental sustainability. For example, escaped fires
from opportunistic charcoal production burn subsistence farm plots,
impoverish soils, and kills vegetation and is a major cause for deforestation and land degradation. Growing deforestation and removal of trees turn biodiverse landscapes to desertification and land degradation which are exacerbated by the effects of climate change. The loss of forest cover promotes abundant growth of grasses resulting in more intense fires in the dry season, preventing regeneration of forest areas and increasing emissions of Greenhouse Gas.
The Ghana Charcoal project is a bottom-up (community-led) woodfuel energy solution aimed at reducing deforestation mostly caused by cutting of trees for fuel, reducing rural poverty and increasing ecosystem resilience to climate change. The project is contributing to sustainable use and maintenance of ecosystem services and conserving natural woodlands for sustainable supply of woodfuel and maintenance of biodiversity.
The sustainable charcoal project contributes to the Ghana National Adaptation and Mitigation Action (NAMA) to Climate Change and addresses energy emissions mitigation targets. This aligns with the global climate change and energy agenda: promoting sustainable energy for all, low carbon-energy access and reduction of GHG emissions and aligns with the following
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
SDG 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy;
SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth (promote policies that encourages entrepreneurship and job creation); and
SDG 15: Life on Land (conserve and restore the use of terrestrial ecosystems such as forests, wetlands, drylands and mountains by 2030
The project is directly strengthening the livelihoods and climate resilience of approximately 20,000 inhabitants (15,000 women and 5,000 men). Our strategy of working with local chiefs and their traditional authorities are encouraging local bylaws that is limiting charcoal production from the wild and promoting plantation establishment for charcoal production.
The landscape restoration through plantation establishment for woodfuel and natural regeneration practices, decreased deforestation and fire management are directly improving biodiversity conservation of the savanna ecological landscape.
The introduction and adoption of the kiln carbonization technology has encouraged and promoted sound management of the savanna-woodlands for sustainable supply of woodfuel. The efficiency of the kiln method over the traditional charcoal production method has increased output of charcoal realized from the production.
Indiscriminate cutting of trees and other biomass for charcoal burning and frequent fires from opportunistic charcoal production have all reduced. There is regrowth of the natural vegetation thus restoring the landscape. The established plantation will replace cutting of wild trees for charcoal burning.
Farmers are intercropping with moisture retention crops with their traditional crops (maize, yam, cassava) and practicing sustainable land management practices. There is increased crop yield and additional income generated from farm produce. The climate smart and sustainable land management practices also providing conservation measures.
The sensitization and education of sustainable charcoal production and environmental sustainability has encouraged attitudinal change in the community. Now, charcoal producers no longer use fresh vegetation/trees for charcoal instead they use dead and lying trees for charcoal production. The landscape restoration and the woodlot plantation are all working together to provide climate mitigation and adaption for the community.