Does Forest Scarcity Affect the Collection and Use of Firewood by Rural Communities? A Case Study in the Atlantic Forest of Northeastern Brazil

  • Ana Paula Teixeira da Silva
  • Patrícia Muniz de Medeiros
  • Washington Soares Ferreira Júnior
  • Rafael Ricardo Vasconcelos da Silva


Many rural communities no longer have abundant forest areas for firewood collection. Based on this scenario, we evaluated how the scarcity of forest environments influences the collection and use of this resource in rural areas. A community located in the Atlantic Forest region of northeastern Brazil, which already lacks forest areas for firewood, was selected for field research. We observed that despite this context of forest scarcity, firewood remains the main source of fuel energy in the community. In total, 27 species of wood were cited, with an emphasis on exotic species in terms of number of citations. The perceived wood quality explained the frequency of plant use, but not the number of consumers. This can be explained by the difficulty of access to some species considered of better quality, because in the studied region, the plants are usually collected in private areas. Efforts in conservation strategies are recommended to encourage an increase in the frequency of use of the available exotic species in order to safeguard the native ones.


Forest biomass Biofuel Fuelwood Traditional knowledge Ethnobotany 


Muitas comunidades rurais já não dispõem de áreas florestais em abundância para obtenção de lenha. Partindo deste cenário, buscamos entender como a escassez de ambientes florestais influencia a coleta e o uso desse recurso em áreas rurais. Para pesquisa de campo, selecionamos uma comunidade inserida na região da mata atlântica do nordeste do Brasil, e que já carece de áreas florestais para a obtenção de lenha. Verificamos que apesar desse contexto de escassez de ambientes florestais, a lenha persiste como principal fonte de energia combustível na comunidade. No total foram citadas 27 espécies utilizadas como lenha, com um destaque para espécies exóticas em termos de número de citações. A qualidade percebida explicou a frequência de uso das plantas, mas não o número de usuários. Isso pode ser explicado pela dificuldade de acesso a algumas espécies consideradas de melhor qualidade, pois na região do estudo as plantas geralmente são coletadas em áreas particulares. São recomendados esforços em estratégias de conservação que estimulem um aumento na frequência de uso das exóticas disponíveis, de modo a salvaguardar as nativas.



The authors acknowledge the residents of the Muquém quilombola community for the hospitality and willingness to participate in the research.

Funding Information

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

“All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.”

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana Paula Teixeira da Silva
    • 1
  • Patrícia Muniz de Medeiros
    • 1
  • Washington Soares Ferreira Júnior
    • 2
  • Rafael Ricardo Vasconcelos da Silva
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Ciências AgráriasUniversidade Federal de AlagoasRio LargoBrazil
  2. 2.Campus PetrolinaUniversidade de PernambucoPetrolinaBrazil

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