Emissions and Deforestation Associated with Household Fuel Wood Use: A Case of the Thulamela Local Municipality, South Africa
Fuel wood is regarded as a major source of energy around the world, particularly in developing nations where it forms part of the energy mix. Most rural communities around the world, consider forests a repository of stored energy. This paper focuses on the role of fuel wood in deforestation and the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the Thulamela local municipality in South Africa. Data regarding fuel wood consumption were collected through a questionnaire field survey of 200 households out of a total of 2 024 households in four villages in the municipality. The basic methodological approach outlined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was adopted and modified to estimate the emission of carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) from fuel wood. Emission factors were applied in calculating the carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxide (NO) emissions. According to the results, the combined GHGs emitted in the four areas studied were: CO2 14.91 kg; CO 0.000295 kg; and NO 0.00356 kg. The vegetation change calculated using the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for a 5 year interval (2007-2012) indicated a change percentage of 56.23 in the four villages. While these emissions form only a part of the total GHG emissions, the associated deforestation is of concern and greater effort should be made to sustainably manage forests and their resources.