|Ideas for Action : Save, Recycle and Do Not Pollute (IIRR, 1992, 146 p.)|
Environment-friendly use of firewood
Wood is the most widely used source of renewable biomass energy, with over half the wood cut each year being burned as home fuel (directly or as charcoal). Utilization of fuelwood or firewood contributes to deforestation, especially of mangroves/swamp and rural areas. Burning wood also adds to the build-up of greenhouse gases.
To be renewable, firewood must be regrown faster than it is harvested. Many developing countries are already experiencing severe wood shortages. To make firewood a sustainable energy source, it must be properly planted, managed and harvested. Firewood must also be properly prepared and dried for use.
Remember: Dry wood makes a difference in:
- lighting the fire;
- the amount of smoke produced;
- the time taken to boil water and cook food; and,
- the amount of wood use.
The drier the wood, the better it burns.
The better it burns, the less wood we need.
The less wood we need, the more trees we save.
Ways to utilize firewood with minimum environmental damage
· Gather fallen branches, twigs or dead trees, when possible, rather than cutting or felling live trees for firewood.
· Carefully harvest firewood from live trees. Cut correctly.
- Lopping is cutting the side branch off the trunk of a tree. Make two cuts, one from the top and one from the bottom of the branch to prevent tearing.
- Coppicing is cutting certain species of trees (e.g., ipil-ipil, acacia) down to a stump of 10-30 cm above ground. Make the cut clean and angled so new shoots can regrow. Coppicing should be done only on trees three to four meters high, with good root systems and only during the wet season.
- Pollarding is cutting the branches at the top of trees (only certain species like acacia). This method stimulates the growth of new, better-formed and more productive crown and reduces shade, allowing intercropping with short plants.
· Prepare firewood properly. Cut the log into equal short pieces (20-25 cm long). Split the logs into smaller, thinner pieces to increase the exposed surface area for faster drying. Dry firewood burns better.
- To prevent back injury: Cut big logs with a saw on an elevated stool. Split logs with an axe on a block.
· Dry cut firewood thoroughly, i.e., allow enough time for drying before using.
- It helps to have an elevated wood pile with three sections. Wet firewoods go into the first section, are transferred to the next as they get drier and are used up in last section. A layer of wood ash on the ground prevents insects from attacking the firewood.
· Use efficient wood stoves. Practice efficient cooking habits (e.g., cook in large rather than small amounts, several rather than single items).
· Plant firewood species preferably on lands also used for food production or lands not suitable for other uses.
· Try local alternatives to fuelwood: charcoal and DRY coconut husks, rice straws, corn stalks and driftwood.
· Do not clear forests for firewood. Firewood is renewable, but forests are not.
Utilize firewood with minimum environmental damage
Cooking to Conserve: Energy Conservation Lessons for Upper Primary School Home Science Classes. Bellerive Foundation, P.O. Box 42994, Nairobi, Kenya.
Ideas for Action:
A Technology Information Kit, November 23 - 28, 1992