|Application of Biomass-energy Technologies (Habitat, 1993)|
|I. Woodfuel production technologies|
Lesotho is a land locked country in the middle of the Republic of South Africa It has a total surface area of 30,350 square kilometres. The population of Lesotho in 1992 was estimated to be 1.9 million people with an average annual growth rate of 2.6 per cent (SADCC Energy Sector, 1992b)
Lesotho is largely a tree-less country, with no natural forest land other than shrub land. By mid- 1992, the total area planted with trees, through individual, school, and government woodlots was estimated to be around 20,000 ha, or 0.66 per cent of the country land area of which, only 9 per cent is suitable for permanent arable agriculture. About 80 per cent of the land is used as rangelands.
No individual or organization can own land in Lesotho, but people can acquire the right to use a piece of land for a specific purpose and for a specific time under customary law. The free grazing on agricultural fields after crop harvest make tree-growing by individual farmers almost impossible (Hall and Green, 1989).
Biomass fuels account for 88 per cent of the total energy consumed in Lesotho (in the rural areas, the proportion approaches 95 per cent), coal, paraffin, LPG and electricity accounting for the remaining 12 per cent. The main biomass fuels used and their contribution to the total national energy balance are: woodfuel, 62 per cent (mainly from shrubs), animal dung, 20 per cent and crop residues 6 per cent (MWEML, 1991).
The main woodfuel production technologies used in Lesotho are the establishment of woodlots and individual planting.
1. The Lesotho Woodlot Project (LOOP)
After the failures of a village tree-planting scheme of the 1940s, intensive establishment of woodlots for woodfuel and poles production was started again in 1973, when the Lesotho Woodlot Project was commenced by a private company, Anglo de Beers Forest Services Lesotho Ltd. The Overseas Development Administration (ODA) joined the LWP as a donor in 1974. The same year, the World Food Programme (WFP) provided additional support to the LWP through "food for work" (Green, 1990).
By the end of 1991, an area of about 10,250 ha of woodlots had been established in over 350 sites, as Government Forest Reserves. Some of the woodlots have now reached maturity. However, the Forestry Division is having problems selling wood from the mature woodlots due to the inaccessibility of the woodlots by trucks and lack of proper plans on how to sell the woodfuel. Furthermore, funds for re-establishing harvested woodlots are not available from local sources.
2. Individual tree-planting
The Lesotho Energy Master Plan of 1988 indicated that the country was experiencing acute energy scarcity for the household sector. To provide energy to the household sector, the Plan recommended that at least an equivalent of 7500 ha of woodlots be planted annually. To achieve this target, individual tree-planting on a participatory basis was emphasized. However, as stated earlier, due to uncontrolled grazing on crop land after harvesting, it has been difficult for individuals to grow trees on farmland successfully.