Fuelwood Consumption and Woody Biomass Accumulation in Mali, West Africa

Jeff Morton


The narrative that human consumption of fuelwood has induced savannization in sub-Saharan Africa has had wide support for centuries. By the mid-1990s, however, some authors found evidence that undermined the fuelwood-savannization theory. This project set out to add data to the debate by comparing fuelwood consumption to woody biomass accumulation in one village in Mali, West Africa. High, mean, and low fuelwood consumption rates were found to be 574, 380, and 291 kg per person per year respectively. Woody biomass accumulation was calculated at 1659.6 kg ha-1 year-1. Under the highest consumption rate, 0.35 ha of wooded land is needed to meet the fuelwood demand of one person. These figures, and evidence from observing fuelwood collection, undermine the notion that, at least in this region of Mali, fuelwood consumption is a driver of deforestation. The paper concludes by discussing forest management issues in the region and suggests areas for future research.

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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