Charcoal burning blamed for forest depletion

Kenya’s forest cover is fast-fading exposing the country to desertification.

The country’s forest cover currently stands at 7.4% below the recommended global minimum of 10%.

Major contributing factors to forest depletion include charcoal burning and firewood forage for fuel in households.

Experts say these wood fuels are a major threat in efforts towards cutting carbon emissions.

In Kenya, charcoal fuel is estimated to generate at least 4.2 billion shillings per year.

About 80 percent of urban households depend on it for cooking.

In recent times, policymakers have devised mechanisms to discourage its use due to its health and environmental effects.

These include ban on charcoal burning as well as introduction of affordable cooking gas for low income earners under the Mwananchi Gas Project.

Nonetheless making the charcoal industry in Kenya sustainable requires households to improve the efficiency when using the charcoal and wood fuel.

Most of the stoves used in Kenya have low energy conversion at times less than 15 per cent impacting negatively on the environment.

Improved stoves are an option that could increase efficiency by over 35 percent.

Players in the industry are calling on the government to improve the tariff policies to attract investors into development of technologies for sustainable wood-based energy in the country.


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