Deforestation Triggered By Charcoal Production Around The World

Large tracts of land have been subjected to deforestation in Africa due to unsustainable charcoal production.

Carbon and ash together constitute the black residue of charcoal. The most basic way to describe how charcoal is produced is that wood is burned in a fire until the charred remains can be recovered as charcoal. Charcoal production triggers deforestation because charcoal is made out of wood and the only way to get wood to make charcoal is to chop down trees. Charcoal is used for many different things including as cooking fuel, metallurgical fuel, industry fuel, making glass, writing, utensils and medicine. Since the uses of charcoal are many and great, it is one of the causes of deforestation since so many trees have to be cut down to meet the demand for it.

The Production And Effects Of Unsustainable Charcoal Production

Why Countries are involved in unsustainable charcoal production?

Countries that are involved in the production of unsustainable charcoal are the developing countries of the world. Here, as standards of living have been rising, people have been turning to charcoal as there are no other energy options to use. Charcoal is also affordable, and charcoal production industry increases the rural income and employment in these countries. These factors have favored an increase of charcoal use in these countries. Often, there is a bid to produce more charcoal, regardless of whether it is sustainable or not. Across a many eastern and southern African regions, in countries like Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zambia, people use charcoal as the major way to provide energy for their homes and businesses. Unsustainable charcoal production is also growing in other countries around the globe, like Brazil, Panama, and Indonesia as more people gain access to better living standards and can rely on charcoal as a cheap and convenient energy source.

Charcoal production techniques

Two of the simpler techniques that are used by people in places where modern equipment is not available are the earth mound kiln and pit kiln methods. In the earth mound method, wood is stacked on the ground, covered in soil and then burned. In the pit kiln method, a hole is dug in the ground, wood is put into the hole, and then it is covered in dirt. The major problems with these methods are that since they are primitive, they do not yield as much charcoal, causing more wood to be wasted. The modern way of producing charcoal is by using a metal kiln, which vastly improves the amount of charcoal that is produced and reduces deforestation. Unfortunately, these metal kilns are usually too expensive for developing countries to purchase.

Deforested areas due to unsustainable charcoal production

The majority of the time unsustainable charcoal production does not come from farms or plantations but from people chopping down trees in rangeland and government forests. The amount of deforestation can vary by region depending on factors like the tree cutting methods used and if the government has any laws in place to regulate charcoal production. The majority of deforestation caused by unsustainable charcoal production takes place in Africa. The African countries with the highest rates of deforestation are by far Nigeria and Tanzania. Some of the specific areas under threat are the Miombo Woodlands in Tanzania and the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria.

Effects deforestation has on local species

There are a wide variety of negative effects that deforestation can have on the local species in the area. Deforestation kills the plant species that are chopped down and causes the loss of habitat for both plants and animals. For plant species that take a long time to regrow deforestation is even more devastating, since they take so much longer to regenerate. If there is enough deforestation, it can even threaten species of animals and plants into becoming endangered or even extinct.

Measures To Curb Unsustainable Charcoal Production

Many measures that are being taken by governments across the world to try and curb the production of unsustainable charcoal. Countries can pass new laws to attempt to regulate the production and distribution of the charcoal industry. Governments can help and encourage to get everyday people and the private sector who produce charcoal to plant new trees when they chop them down to keep the process of charcoal production sustainable. Governments can also pass laws or start agencies to supervise and monitor the management of forest associated with charcoal production and controlling charcoal producing practices by enforcing better charcoal production methods.

World Regions With The HighestDeforestation Triggered By Unsustainable Charcoal Production

RankWorld RegionArea of Deforestation, square km (2009)
2South America5,100
4Central America390

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