Burning biodiversity: Fuelwood harvesting causes forest degradation in human-dominated tropical landscapes
In the Northeastern Brazilian Atlantic Forest (BAF), extremely dense populations of poor, rural villages create chronic disturbances within the already heavily fragment Atlantic forest in favor of gathering hardwood fuel supplies. This hardwood is self-gathered without management techniques and burned inefficiently, and is driven by poverty, proximity to forest fragments, human labour availability, and lack of alternative energy sources. One of the most biodiverse, endemic, and endangered regions on the planet, this research seeks to study the impact of rural fuelwood development in the northeastern BAF.
Goals & Methods
The goal of this study was to determine whether household income is negatively related to both the likelihood of consuming fuelwood and the amount of this resource consumed in rural villages of Northeastern Brazil. The study tested the relationship between fuelwood consumption and per capita income for 270 families across 7 rural settlements.
Conclusions & Takeaways
The study found that 76% of households used firewood consistently and that poorer households used more than more well-off ones. Moreover, only a several species of hardwood make up the majority of consumption. The authors conclude that due to the interrelation of the less-studied fuelwood impacts and broad regional poverty, it would be wise to integrate policies focused on alleviating poverty into conservation efforts in the region.
Burning biodiversity: Fuelwood harvesting causes forest degradation in human-dominated tropical landscapes. Global Ecology and Conservation. 2015;3:200–209. doi:10.1016/j.gecco.2014.12.002..
- Center of Environmental Research in the Northeast (CEPAN)