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Research Report

Fuelwood Studies in India: Myth and Reality

Devendra Pandey
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2002
Pages: 108
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. ix-x)
    J.E.M. Arnold

    Given my long association with forestry planning and policy development in India, I am pleased to see The Center for International Forestry Research associate itself with establishing the latest information on the fuelwood situation in that country.

    Fuel is by far the largest use of wood in India, dominating all other uses, as is the case in most developing countries. The estimated annual consumption of fuelwood far exceeds estimates of the sustainable annual output of wood from the country’s forests. This has long given rise to serious concerns that harvesting of fuelwood could be depleting the country’s forest patrimony. The...

  2. (pp. 1-4)

    Fuelwood has remained the principal component of rural domestic energy in India and in most developing countries. Most of the fuelwood has been reported to be derived from forests with some from trees growing on homesteads, farmlands, and common lands outside forests. Because of the increasing population, the area under agriculture expanded and forests shrunk. In India, the land under cultivation increased from 118 million in 1951 to 142 million ha by 1987. This expansion also included the diversion of about 4.5 million ha of forests to agriculture. On the other hand, the demand for fuelwood increased in spite of...

  3. (pp. 5-9)

    Energy is one of the critical inputs in the economic development of any country as most development activities are associated with a massive requirement of energy. Growth in the commercial energy sector is considered as a positive sign of development. Per capita income is strongly correlated with the per capita consumption of commercial energy in both developing and industrialised countries.

    In India, the use of commercial energy increased tenfold during 1953-1997; still, the per capita consumption remains very low. As per British Petroleum statistics (1998), the per capita consumption of energy in India was 0.3 tonnes oil equivalent (toe) in...

  4. (pp. 10-12)

    The accuracy and validity of fuelwood statistics depends on the way the data have been collected and processed. Though there are several considerations to be made while collecting the data, a few important ones are: the criteria adopted for stratification which influence fuelwood consumption (nearness to accessible forest resource, urbanisation, income level and climate), coverage of a cross section of the population, the sampling design followed, rationality of assumptions, method of data collection (direct measurement or by questionnaire), duration of data collection, skill of measurement, etc. Availability of funds becomes the major factor influencing the design and methodology.

    Of the...

  5. (pp. 13-19)

    This chapter presents a systematic review and critical analysis of the results of the fuelwood and wood balance studies done in India, mainly in the last two decades. Some highlights of the earlier studies have also been given. The review, however, should not be treated as complete. The review has focused broadly on the following aspects:

    Results of per capita as well as total consumption in rural and urban sectors

    Fuelwood consumption vis-á-vis availability of forest resources

    Energy consumption patterns in rural and urban areas to reflect share of different energy forms: commercial (LPG, kerosene, coal and electricity) and non-commercial...

  6. (pp. 20-23)

    The Government of India announced a new investment policy for different sectors in 1991 for facilitating the inflow of foreign capital and to encourage entrepreneurs to invest in India. Equity participation in commercial and industrial ventures has been freed from all restrictions and foreign companies can now invest up to 1007 of their equity in different activities including the petroleum, electricity, and coal sectors. The two most recent policies in relation to the growth of LPG, which has direct bearing on the consumption of fuelwood, are mentioned below:

    a) India formulated a new exploration licensing policy in 1998 to allow...

  7. (pp. 24-27)

    In the context of fuelwood, 'hot spots’ include two types of areas, one where the forest/tree resource depletes due to excessive removal of fuelwood, and one where there is fuelwood scarcity and people switch to inferior (less efficient) types of fuel like crop residue, dung cake, leaf litter etc. Different criteria have to be adopted to identify these areas.

    The collection of fuelwood from forests that exceeds sustainable yield causes degradation. Forest degradation in turn leads to fuelwood scarcity and a variety of adverse consequences, including loss of biodiversity, deterioration of watershed functions, release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere...

  8. (pp. 28-32)

    In India, afforestation and tree planting were given high priority when the Government announced a revised '20 point programme’ in 1980 and a substantial increase in outlay was made for such activities. Simultaneously, the Social Forestry Programmes were also launched, the main goal of which was to increase the production of fuelwood, fodder and small timber in rural areas by planting trees in community wastelands, marginal farmlands, and other vacant lands. There was strong emphasis on local people’s participation. This resulted in an increase in annual afforestation from 0.11 million ha prior to 1980 to 0.93 million ha during 1980-85....

  9. (pp. 33-35)

    The collection of primary data and assessment of any resource is an expensive and time-consuming activity. In many cases, the people to be involved in such activities have to be trained. The production, supply, distribution and consumption of fuelwood has mainly remained in the informal sector. Unlike fossil fuels and electricity, there are almost no accounts of sale or bills to derive data on production or sales (Heruela 1996). The form and shape of fuelwood (fire logs, wastewood, branches and twigs) is so variable that precise estimates about consumption and production are almost impossible. The sources of supply are many:...

  10. (pp. 36-39)

    The major findings of the study based on the review of the fuelwood and wood balance studies conducted during the last two decades in India, and of the developments taking place in the energy sector including the hydrocarbon, electricity, coal, forestry and non-conventional sectors, are summarised in the following paragraphs.

    There have been many changes in the fuel consumption scenario in the country during the last two decades. There has been phenomenal growth in the commercial energy sector leading to easy availability of LPG and kerosene. More than 87% of the villages of the country have been electrified, an increase...