Woodfuel is the main source of energy for cooking for over 60% of households in Sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to the food security and nutritional needs of millions of people. Due to the lack of alternative energy sources and growing charcoal demand from urban centers, woodfuel production is expected to increase in the coming decades. The sector provides income to millions of people, including small-scale producers and collectors, traders, transporters and sellers, who rely on woodfuel revenues for their livelihoods. Despite its socioeconomic importance, woodfuel production and trade is still a mostly informal sector. It is not organized, it has weak or inadequate legal frameworks, and it contributes little to government revenues. The lack of woodfuel governance, in combination with increasing demand, results in unsustainable wood harvesting that causes forest degradation and greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, sustainable woodfuel value chains can positively contribute to livelihoods, by household income from trade and a secure supply of cooking fuel, while mitigating negative environmental impacts.
There is a need for an integrated approach to woodfuel value chain dynamics that consider multiple functions of forest-agricultural landscapes and outcomes for livelihoods and forest governance. CIFOR aims to contribute to knowledge, options and networks for more sustainable woodfuel value chains across Sub-Saharan Africa, with a particular focus on Cameroon and the Congo Basin region, Zambia, and Kenya, with extensions into neighboring countries regarding cross-border trade.