The potential of agroforestry in the provision of sustainable woodfuel in sub-Saharan Africa

Abstract: Woodfuel plays a critical role in energy provision in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and is predicted to remain dominant within the energy portfolio of the population in the coming decades. Although current inefficient technologies of production and consumption are associated with negative socio-economic and environmental outcomes, projected charcoal intensive pathways along with urbanization may further accelerate pressures on tree covers. This paper reviews the status of the woodfuel sector in SSA, and estimates the magnitude of impacts of increasing wood demand for charcoal production on tree cover, which will be obviously unsustainable under business-as-usual scenarios. Agroforestry, if widely adopted as an integrated strategy together with improved kilns and stoves, can have a significant impact to reduce wood harvest pressures in forests through sustainably supplying trees on farm. A systematic approach is required to promote multi-purpose agroforestry systems compatible with farmers’ needs under local farming systems and current dryland socio-economic contexts.