Advertisement

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 403–413 | Cite as

Evidence for ecological sustainability of fuelwood harvesting at a rural village in South Africa

  • Anthony Michael SwemmerEmail author
  • Mightyman Mashele
  • Patrick Dlondack Ndhlovu
Original Article

Abstract

While the fuelwood crises predicted in the 1980s have not materialized, the potential for fuelwood demand to exceed supply remains for many rural areas, particularly in Africa where fuelwood is the primary source of domestic energy. The sustainability of fuelwood harvesting from a semi-arid savanna ecosystem was investigated at a rural village where shortages have been predicted. Repeated sampling over a period of 7 years revealed a stable supply of wood from harvesting areas. The number and thickness of stems harvested did not decline as expected, nor did the use of undesirable species. This is consistent with long-term changes in the structure of the woody layer of the harvesting area, where increases rather than decreases in plant density have occurred. The ability of local species to survive regular damage, coppice rapidly, and reproduce when still well below their adult sizes, together with social factors that limit the rate of harvesting, appears to have produced an ecologically sustainable harvesting system. However, the estimated biomass of fuelwood harvested was far below existing estimates of fuelwood consumption in the village, suggesting that fuelwood supply has not kept up with demand. Transformation of harvesting areas for housing and crop fields, rather than increasing demand, is the most likely cause of this.

Keywords

Allometry Biomass Ecosystem services ILTER SAEON Savanna Socio-ecology Species composition Welverdiend 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors thank the community leaders and fuelwood harvesters from Welverdiend village for allowing this research to be conducted on their land and for discussions on fuelwood harvesting. This manuscript is dedicated to the late Mr. Patrick Ndhlovu, a dedicated researcher and father, whose passion for plants and animals was an inspiration to many others.

Funding information

Funding was provided by the Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation of South Africa.

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1402_MOESM1_ESM.docx (104 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 104 kb)

References

  1. Arnold JEM (1983) Replenishing the world’s forests: community forestry and meeting community forestry and meeting fuelwood needs. Commonw For Rev 62:183–189 Stable URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/42606309 Google Scholar
  2. Arnold M, Persson R (2003) Reassessing the fuelwood situation in developing countries. Int For Rev 5:379–383.  https://doi.org/10.1505/IFOR.5.4.379.22660 Google Scholar
  3. Arnold JEM, Köhlin G, Persson R (2006) Woodfuels, livelihoods, and policy interventions: changing perspectives. World Dev 34:596–611.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2005.08.008 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aron J, Eherhard AA, Gandar MV (1991) Fuelwood deficits in rural South Africa. Biomass Bioenergy 1:89–98.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0961-9534(91)90031-7 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Babanyara YY, Saleh UF (2010) Urbanisation and the choice of fuel wood as a source of energy in Nigeria. J Hum Ecol 31:19–26.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09709274.2010.11906293 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Banks BI, Griffin N, Shackleton CM, Shackleton SE, Mavrandonis J (1996) Wood supply and demand around two rural settlements in a semi-arid savanna, South Africa. Biomass Bioenergy 11:319–331.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0961-9534(96)00031-1 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bensel TG, Kummer DM (1996) Fuelwood consumption and deforestation in the Philippines. Hum Organ 55:498–500.  https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.55.4.r28347024gn42x85 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bhagavan MR (1984) The wood uel crisis in the SADCC countries. Ambio 13:25–27Google Scholar
  9. Bradley PN, Campbell BM (1998) Who plugged the gap? Re-examining the woodfuel crisis in Zimbabwe. Energy Environ 9:235–255.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0958305X9800900302 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brouwer ID, Hoorweg JC, Van Liere MJ (1997) When households run out of fuel: responses of rural households to decreasing Fuelwood availability, Ntcheu District, Malawi. Pergamon World Dev 25:255–266.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0305-750X(96)00100-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chidumayo EN (1988) Estimating fuelwood production and yield in regrowth dry miombo woodland in Zambia. For Ecol Manage 24:59–66.  https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-1127(88)90024-2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Coetzer KL, Erasmus BFN, Witkowski ETF, Reyers B (2013) The race for space: tracking land-cover transformation in a socio-ecological landscape, South Africa. Environ Manag 52:595–611.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-013-0094-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. de Montalembert MR, Clément J (1983) Fuelwood supplies in the developing countries. CABIGoogle Scholar
  14. Dick J, Orenstein DE, Holzer JM, Wohner C, Achard AL, Andrews C, Avriel-Avni N, Beja P, Blond N, Cabello J, Chen C (2018) What is socio-ecological research delivering? A literature survey across 25 international LTSER platforms. Sci Total Environ 622:1225–1240.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.11.324 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dovie DBK, Witkowski ETF, Shackleton CM (2004) The fuelwood crisis in southern Africa – relating fuelwood use to livelihoods in a rural village. GeoJournal 60:123–133.  https://doi.org/10.1023/B:GEJO.0000033597.34013.9f CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Egeru AS (2014) Rural households’ fuelwood demand determinants in dryland areas of eastern Uganda. Energy Sources Part B Econ Plan Policy 9:39–45.  https://doi.org/10.1080/15567241003716688 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fernandes SD, Trautmann NM, Streets DG, Roden CA, Bond TC (2007) Global biofuel use, 1850–2000. Glob Biogeochem Cycles 21:1–15.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2006GB002836 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gaugris JY, Van Rooyen MW (2010) Woody vegetation structure in conserved versus communal land in a biodiversity hotspot: a case study in Maputaland, South Africa. South African J Bot 76:289–298.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sajb.2009.11.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Giannecchini M, Twine W, Vogel C (2007) Land-cover change and human–environment interactions in a rural cultural landscape in South Africa. Geogr J 173:26–43.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1475-4959.2007.00227.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Griffin NJ, Banks DI, Mavrandonis J, Shackleton CM, Shackleton SE (1993) Fuel use in six rural settlements in Gazankulu. J Energy South Africa 4:68–73Google Scholar
  21. Haase P, Tonkin JD, Stoll S, Burkhard B, Frenzel M, Geijzendorffer IR, Häuser C, Klotz S, Kühn I, McDowell WH, Mirtl M (2018) The next generation of site-based long-term ecological monitoring: linking essential biodiversity variables and ecosystem integrity. Sci Total Environ 613:1376–1384.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.111 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hansfort SL, Mertz O (2011) Challenging the woodfuel crisis in west African woodlands. Hum Ecol 39:583–595.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-011-9417-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Higgins SL, Shackleton CM, Robinson ER (1999) Changes in woody community structure and composition under contrasting landuse systems in a semi-arid savanna, South Africa. J Biogeogr 26:619–627.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.t01-1-00317.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. IEA (2014) Africa energy outlook: a focus on energy prospects in sub-Saharan Africa, ParisGoogle Scholar
  25. Jew EKK, Dougill AJ, Sallu SM, O’Connell J, Benton TG (2016) Miombo woodland under threat: consequences for tree diversity and carbon storage. For Ecol Manag 361:144–153.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2015.11.011 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Johnson NG, Bryden KM (2012) Energy supply and use in a rural West African village. Energy 43:283–292.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENERGY.2012.04.028 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Kaschula SA, Twine WC, Scholes MC (2005) The effect of catena position and stump charateristics on the coppice response of three savannah fuelwood species. Environ Conserv 32:76–84.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892905001980 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kebede E, Kagochi J, Jolly CM (2010) Energy consumption and economic development in Sub-Sahara Africa. Energy Econ 32:532–537.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENECO.2010.02.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kirkland T, Hunter LM, Twine W (2007) “The bush is no more”: insights on institutional change and natural resource availability in rural South Africa. Soc Nat Resour 20:337–350.  https://doi.org/10.1080/08941920601161353 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kituyi E, Marufu L, Huber B, Wandiga SO, Jumba IO, Andreae MO, Helas G (2001) Biofuel consumption rates and patterns in Kenya. Biomass Bioenergy 20:83–99.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0961-9534(00)00072-6 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Komala HP, Devi Prasad DP (2016) Biomass: a key source of energy in rural households of Chamarajanagar district. Pelagia Res Libr 7:85–89Google Scholar
  32. Madubansi M, Shackleton CM (2007) Changes in fuelwood use and selection following electrification in the Bushbuckridge lowveld, South Africa. J Environ Manag 83:416–426.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2006.03.014 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mahiri I, Howorth C (2001) Twenty years of resolving the irresolvable: approaches to the fuelwood problem in Kenya. L Degrad Dev 12:205–215.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.433 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Matsika R (2013) The spatio-temporal dynamics of woody biomass supply and demand in response to human utilisation in an African Savanna woodland. PhD Dissertation, University of Witwatersrand. http://hdl.handle.net/10539/12339
  35. Matsika R, Erasmus BFN, Twine WC (2012) A tale of two villages: assessing the dynamics of fuelwood supply in communal landscapes in South Africa. Environ Conserv 40:1–13.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0376892912000264 Google Scholar
  36. Matsika R, Erasmus BFN, Twine WC (2013) Double jeopardy: the dichotomy of fuelwood use in rural South Africa. Energy Policy 52:716–725.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENPOL.2012.10.030 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mograbi PJ, Erasmus BFN, Witkowski ETF, Asner GP, Wessels KJ, Mathieu R, Knapp DE, Martin RE, Main R (2015) Biomass increases go under cover: woody vegetation dynamics in south African rangelands. PLoS One 10:1–21.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127093 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mucina L, Rutherford MC (2006) Vegetation of South Africa. Lesotho and Swaziland Strelitzia 19Google Scholar
  39. Mwampamba TH (2007) Has the woodfuel crisis returned? Urban charcoal consumption in Tanzania and its implications to present and future forest availability. Energy Policy 35:4221–4234.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENPOL.2007.02.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Pandey R (2012) Domestic burning of fuelwood in a subsistence tribal economy of lower Himalayas, India: some implications based on exploratory analysis. Small-scale For 11:119–130.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11842-011-9172-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. R Core Team (2013) R: A language and environment for statistical computingGoogle Scholar
  42. Rademan LK, Van Rooyen MW (2004) An ecological assessment of the sustainable utilization of the woody vegetation in the Lowveld Bushveld, Mpumalanga Province. MSc Thesis, University of Pretoria. http://hdl.handle.net/2263/26433
  43. Ribot JC (1999) A history of fear: imagining deforestation in the West African dryland forests. Source Glob Ecol Biogeogr Trop Open Woodlands Spec Issue 84:291–300.  https://doi.org/10.1046/j.1365-2699.1999.00146.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Shackleton CM (2000) Comparison of plant diversity in protected and communal lands in the Bushbuckridge lowveld savanna, South Africa. Biol Conserv 94:273–285.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00001-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Shackleton C, Shackleton S (2004) The importance of non-timber forest products in rural livelihood security and as safety nets: a review of evidence from South Africa. S Afr J Sci 100:658–664. Persistent link : http://hdl.handle.net/10520/EJC96169
  46. Shackleton S, Shackleton C, Netshiluvhi T, Geach BS, Ballance A, Fairbanks DHK (2002) Use patterns and value of savanna resources in three rural villages in South Africa. Econ Bot 56:130–146. https://doi.org/10.1663/0013-0001(2002)056[0130:UPAVOS]2.0.CO;2Google Scholar
  47. Shackleton CM, Guthrie G, Main R (2005) Estimating the potential role of commercial over-harvesting in the resource viability: a case study of five useful tree species in South Africa. L Degrad Dev 16:273–286.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.652 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. StatsSA (2011) Census archives. http://www.statssa.gov.za/?page_id=4286&id=11811. Accessed 14 Oct 2017
  49. Twine WC (2005) Socio-economic transitions influence vegetation change in the communal rangelands of the South African lowveld. African J Range Forage Sci 22:93–99.  https://doi.org/10.2989/10220110509485866 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Twine WC, Holdo RM (2016) Fuelwood sustainability revisited: integrating size structure and resprouting into a spatially realistic fuelshed model. J Appl Ecol 53:1766–1776.  https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2664.12713 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Twine W, Saphugu V, Moshe D (2003) Harvesting of communal resources by ‘outsiders’ in rural South Africa: a case of xenophobia or a real threat to sustainability? Int J Sustain Dev World Ecol 10:263–274.  https://doi.org/10.1080/13504500309469804 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Uhunamure SE, Nethengwe NS, Musyoki A (2017) Driving forces for fuelwood use in households in the Thulamela municipality, South Africa. J Energy South Africa 28:25.  https://doi.org/10.17159/2413-3051/2017/v28i1a1635 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Venter FJ, Scholes RJ, Eckhardt HC (2003) The abiotic template and its associated vegetation pattern. In: Biggs H, Rogers K (eds) The Kruger experience. Ecology and management of savanna heterogeneity. South African National Parks, Kruger National Park, pp 83–129Google Scholar
  54. Vermeulen S, Vermeulen SJ, Campbell BM, Mangono JJ (2000) Shifting patterns of fuel and wood use by households in rural Zimbabwe. Energy Environ 11:233–254.  https://doi.org/10.1260/0958305001500112 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wessels KJ, Mathieu R, Erasmus BFN, Asner GP, Smit IPJ, van Aardt JAN, Main R, Fisher J, Marais W, Kennedy-Bowdoin T, Knapp DE, Emerson R, Jacobson J (2011) Impact of communal land use and conservation on woody vegetation structure in the Lowveld savannas of South Africa. For Ecol Manag 261:19–29.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.FORECO.2010.09.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wessels KJ, Colgan MS, Erasmus BFN, Asner GP, Twine WC, Mathieu R, van Aardt JAN, Fisher JT, Smit IPJ (2013) Unsustainable fuelwood extraction from South African savannas. Environ Res Lett 8:014007.  https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/1/014007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Williams A, Shackleton CM (2002) Fuelwood use in South Africa: where to in the 21st century. South African For J 196:1–6.  https://doi.org/10.1080/20702620.2002.10434611 Google Scholar
  58. Williams M, Ryan CM, Rees RM, Sambane E, Fernando J, Grace J (2008) Carbon sequestration and biodiversity of re-growing Miombo woodlands in Mozambique. For Ecol Manag 254:145–155.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2007.07.033 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Zulu LC (2010) The forbidden fuel: charcoal, urban woodfuel demand and supply dynamics, community forest management and woodfuel policy in Malawi. Energy Policy 38:3717–3730.  https://doi.org/10.1016/J.ENPOL.2010.02.050 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.SAEON Ndlovu NodeSouth African Environmental Observation Network (SAEON)Kruger National ParkSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations