|Application of Biomass-energy Technologies (Habitat, 1993)|
|I. Woodfuel production technologies|
Swaziland, covering an area of 17,364 square kilometres, is land-locked between the Republic of South Africa and Mozambique. The census of 1986 estimated the population of Swaziland to be 676,000 with an average annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent.
There are two distinct systems of land tenure in Swaziland: the Swazi National Land (SNL), which is communally-owned and occupies 57 per cent of the total land area, and the Individual Tenure Farms (ITF) which can be bought and sold freely by Swazi citizens.
Woodfuel accounts for about 50 per cent of the total energy used in Swaziland. At the national level, 64 per cent of households use woodfuel exclusively for cooking and heating. However, for the rural areas, the proportion of households depending entirely on woodfuel for cooking and heating is over 91 per cent. Main sources of woodfuel for households are indigenous forests and trees on agriculture land, in particular black wattle which flourishes well in both the SNL and the ITF. It is estimated that black wattle covers about 7500 ha, of which 5000 ha are on the SNL with an average productivity of 6 m³/ha/year as compared to a productivity of 18 m³/ha/year on the ITF due to intensive management in the latter.
Swaziland also has more than 102,000 ha of intensively-managed industrial plantations for the production of woodpulp and saw-timber which also produce an estimated 150,000 tons of wood- waste annually. A proportion of this waste is used for the generation of electricity and the rest is either collected for household woodfuel by those who have access to the plantation, or burned or left to rot in the forest.
Localized woodfuel scarcities in the SNL, mainly due to population pressure, are being experienced and it is reported to be expanding rapidly (Magumba, 1990). For this reason, the Government of Swaziland has initiated tree-growing and environmental protection programmes.
The main woodfuel technologies employed in Swaziland include raising of seedlings in centralized government nurseries, establishment of community woodlots and encouragement of individual tree-growing.
1. Establishment of nurseries
Centralized government nurseries have been established by the Forestry Department for raising seedlings, primarily for the community and individual woodlots on the SNL. The woodlots are expected to produce woodfuel and poles as well as contribute to soil conservation. Seedlings are issued free of charge and technical expertise is provided by extension workers on the establishment and management of tree crops.
Community woodlots are established under the supervision of local chiefs and their society, through participatory efforts. The chief nominates a special village committee to select sites for woodlots and mobilize people for the establishment, protection and tending of the woodlots. Eucalyptus trees are generally grown for a rotation period of five to eight years under a coppicing system. Mahlangatsha village has managed to establish a 155 ha eucalyptus woodlot, which is currently generating income to the village through sale of poles and woodfuel.
In spite of the encouraging success of the Mahlangatsha village project, Magumba (1990) reported that establishment of community woodlots is experiencing the following problems:
· Most people are not enthusiastic about community woodlot projects and they would prefer individual tree-planting.
· Individual farmers sometimes take trees for planting (as they are issued free) but do not plant them, due to pressure on farming, leaving the trees to dry up in their backyards.
Villagers believe that trees are self-regenerating entities which do not require weeding or fertilization. In some areas, they expect establishment of woodlots to be the Government's responsibility, using paid labour as for demonstration plots.
· Protection of woodlots from grazing animals by fencing is the greatest problem with community woodlots. Where fencing is not done by the Government a local NGO or donor agency, then the chance of trees surviving in community woodlots is almost zero.
Learning from models of best practices and intensification of extension services are, however, expected to enhance the successful establishment of woodlots with individual tree-planting being emphasized.
2. NGO and donor support
Magumba (1990) reported that the Council of Swaziland Churches was the first NGO in Swaziland to support tree-growing efforts. Its support, which started in 1989, includes introduction of tree-growing and establishment of tree nurseries in schools, provision of funds for establishing tree nurseries in rural areas and fencing materials for community woodlots.
The main donors supporting woodfuel production and environmental protection in Swaziland are: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) which provided funds for conducting an inventory of indigenous forests and on how to improve their management which was conducted in 1986, and the German Association for Technical Cooperation (GTZ) which is supporting household woodfuel-consumption surveys and inventories of existing potential of black wattle for producing woodfuel.
According to Magumba (1990) and the SADCC Energy Sector (1992a), the main constraints in woodfuel production in Swaziland are:
· Critical shortage of a trained workforce.
· Lack of an integrated land-use plan for the SNL which would have effectively combined forestry, livestock and agriculture, and ensured sustainable land management and economic growth.
· Lack of knowledge of suitable woodfuel species with multi-purpose uses.
· Low priority accorded to forestry and tree-growing in rural areas within the total development system of the country.
· Lack of comprehensive multi-sectorial policies and strategies for enhancing coordination between sectors, NGOs and donors dealing with land-use planning, agriculture, forestry, livestock and environmental protection.