Environmental impacts of energy production - Fuel-wood gathering Flashcards


Fuel-wood gathering


In developing countries, particularly in rural areas, 2.5 billion people rely on biomass such as fuel wood to meet their energy needs for cooking. This figure is projected to increase to over 2.6 billion by 2015 and to 2.7 billion by 2030 because of population growth. In most less developed countries use of fuel for cooking accounts for over 90% of household energy consumption because most rural dwellers have no access to electricity.

Wood that’s burnt for fuel is called fuel wood. The gathering of fuel wood can damage the environment in several ways:

  1. Deforestation - most fuel wood gathering isn’t regulated and due to the scarcity of fuel supplies, this gathering can seriously deplete local woodland, resulting in less interception of rainfall, reduced infiltration, faster runoff and greater soil erosion by water and wind.
  2. Habitat loss - deforestation can damage or destroy the habitats of a wide range of wildlife.
  3. Soil erosion - tree roots bind soil together. If the trees are removed the soil isn’t held together as well and can be washed away by rain or blown away by winds.

Human costs:

In many countries reliant on biomass, such as those in east Africa, women and children bear the burden of fuel-wood collection - a time-consuming and exhausting task. In Tanzania the average distance travelled to collect wood is between 5 and 10 km per day. Many children, especially girls, are withdrawn from school to attend to this task.

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