Originally introduced to dryland areas in Kenya as a solution to deforestation and fuelwood shortages, the shrub Prosopis juliflora has become highly invasive, displacing native plants, and negatively impacting both biodiversity and livelihoods.
Efforts to control Prosopis include, among others, using it to produce sustainable charcoal, which can both fill a major bioenergy gap and clear land for agriculture.
However, limited knowledge and a lack of proper equipment for pruning have prevented communities from realizing the full economic potential of Prosopis.
In Baringo County, CIFOR-ICRAF and partners took an integrated approach to sustainable charcoal production using Prosopis, through participatory mapping and ‘training of trainers’ on sustainable harvesting and the use of improved kilns.
Results show that using Prosopis for charcoal production is sustainable in three ways: it is abundant, it can be regenerated through selective pruning, and it produces high-quality charcoal more efficiently than other woody species.
This brief describes these results and offers recommendations for the use of invasive species for charcoal production.