Modeling choice of fuelwood source among rural households in Malawi: a multinomial probit analysis

Modeling choice of fuelwood source among rural households in Malawi: a multinomial probit analysis

Fuelwood collection in Malawi and associated environmental issues

In Malawi, biomass energy accounts for more than 90% of the total primary energy consumption, and forests contribute nearly 75% of the total biomass supply. This paper addresses two questions: what determines Malawian household's choice of fuel-wood source and, what are the environmental consequences of fuel-wood collection from Malawi’s forest reserves?

The paper draws these findings:

  • there are strong substitution opportunities across fuel-wood collection sources
  • customary forests and forest reserves are substitutes, as is customary forests and plantation forests, while substitution is more limited between plantation forests and forest reserves
  • attributes of the fuel-wood sources (size and species composition) and distance to the sources are the most important determinants of fuel-wood choice
  • customary managed forests generate environmental benefits by reducing pressure on both plantation forests and forest reserves

The document indicates the existence of special forest co-management program (FCM), clarifying that fuel-wood collection from the forest reserves under FCM is subjected to regulations and restrictions. Nevertheless, it notes that rules’ enforcement is weak, and co-management structures do not have the legal mandate to prosecute violators.

Conclusions are as follows:

  • increasing area under the FCM program can help to reduce pressure on customary forests
  • there is a need to expand and strengthen community-based institutions to manage local forest resources
  • there is a need to design complementary interventions to encourage individuals, households and communities to establish their own forest plantations.
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