Trees for firewood

Forestry

Collecting firewood in Cambodia near Phnom Penh. Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund
Collecting firewood in Cambodia near Phnom Penh. Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund

Compiled by Helen Gaw.

It is well known that the need for firewood can lead to deforestation, which damages the environment and makes it more difficult to find firewood. But people still need firewood. 

Women and children often do the hard work of collecting and carrying wood for fuel. They may also face physical and sexual violence when they travel to collect wood.

By planting and maintaining good firewood trees close to home, the people who collect wood can stay safe and healthy. Trees planted near the home also provide shade, which helps to keep the environment cool and fresh. Firewood trees may be planted near homes or on communal land in urban areas.

Often trees are grown on farms for timber. Special trees may also be planted on farmland or elsewhere for use as firewood. Women may be particularly interested in planting these trees. They may be planted as wood lots in a corner of a farm or along a particular border. They encourage local wildlife, which may increase the productivity of plant life and trees, for example through pollination.

Many trees used in agroforestry like sesbania, leucaena and calliandra are ideal to plant as firewood. These trees are all members of the pea family and they help put nitrogen into the soil. This improves the fertility of the soil for farming. In Latin America, madreado and guama (common names) have similar qualities and can be used in the same way.

Refer to the Resources page for more information on how to find local trees that can be used in agroforestry and that are suitable for firewood.



Discussion

  • Discuss where firewood is collected.
  • Discuss the idea of women planting trees, and especially the idea of planting trees for firewood.
  • What trees are preferred for firewood? Is it possible to plant any of these near homes? 

Discussion questions taken from Agroforestry – A PILLARS Guide, published by Tearfund.