Earth & Environmental Science Journalism:

Science Research Project

An Assessment of Fuel Wood as a Sustainable Source of Energy for
Rural Communities in the Miombo Savannah Woodland Ecosystem of
Sub-Saharan Africa: A Case Study in Mbola, Tanzania Millennium

Katherine Bagley

Kat in her research area, Mbola, Tanzania


Fuel wood is the major source of energy for communities in the miombo woodland region of Sub-Saharan Africa. Increasing populations and demand for fuel wood are causing widespread deforestation and environmental degradation in the miombo. This study looked at the sustainability of fuel wood in the Mbola, Tanzania Millennium Village using Quickbird satellite image analysis, tree measurements for density and biomass estimations, and household surveys. There is approximately 1.1 billion kg of woody biomass available for fuel wood use in the Mbola region. As of 2008, individuals used 775 kg of fuel wood annually and the entire community uses 23.25 million kg of fuel wood annually. Based on rough population projections and reported miombo regrowth rates, the current fuel wood supply is projected to last only three more decades. 86% of household survey respondents expressed interest in a Millennium Village Projectled tree planting initiative. Researchers believe an initiative that will increase planting and sustainable harvesting techniques will help shift communities from obtaining fuel wood from outside land onto their own farms. This shift will decrease miombo woodland deforestation and allow fuel wood to be a sustainable source of energy.

Quickbird satellite image of Mbola, TZ Millenium Village. Represents 110km sq. gridded into 400m X 400m boxes for tree density region classification. Red dots indicate sampling points collected by Bagley 2008. Yellow dots indicate sampling points collected during MVP environmental assessment.



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Last updated: 8 January 2001, KAK.