Sustainability and Environment
The global depletion of forests is of great concern for the environment and future in many developing countries, Africa in particular. Tanzania, like the majority of Africa countries, has always been and continue to be heavily reliant on charcoal and firewood as their main source of cooking fuels. This dependency has seen vast areas of natural forest decimated. Currently, alternative cooking fuels are beginning to become more popular in many African cities however, production and export of the product is still on the rise. Hardwood trees, some older than 50 years, are being cut down, turned into charcoal illegally, and sold at next to nothing into Europe, America and the Middle East as well as within Africa. Often disguised in upmarket packaging, many people are still unaware of the source of their charcoal and it’s potentially devastating environmental impacts.
In Tanzania alone an estimated 400,000 hectares are being cut down every year – at completely unsustainable rate of deforestation driven by charcoal production. If nothing is done to curb these immense and growing levels of deforestation, it is estimated that Tanzania like many other African countries will see massive forest losses in the coming decade as demand for the charcoal grows.
These extreme topographical changes are considered one of the leading causes of climate change. Unsustainable use of natural forests has led to land degradation – manifested by soil erosion, desertification, destroyed watersheds and general loss of productive potential in rural areas. This is occurring on large scale across African countries that are exporting charcoal from natural forests with high ecological value. Considering the role played by the forests, it is obvious that deforestation has serious economic and ecological consequences and it is often the most underprivileged who bear the greatest burden of climate change going as far as turning many communities into refugees as they can no longer live of the land.
Some of specific consequences are –
- Reduced land productivity due to loss of soil fertility and inadequate or unreliable rainfall patterns.
- Scarcity of fuelwood for the poorest who cannot afford to use alternative sources of fuel. African women have been forced to walk farther for fuelwood, reducing the amount of time they would spend on other productive activities.
- Loss of livelihood options among the poor people who rely on forests for food, medicine, fuelwood, building poles and furniture.
- Reduction or loss of tourism potentials due to destruction of principle resources including charismatic wildlife species and attractive sites.
- Increased human–wildlife conflicts due to proximity and overlap in the use of space between wildlife, livestock and humans.
- Increased risk of inbreeding depression among the migratory species due to isolation of protected areas caused by blockage of wildlife corridors.
- Increased emission of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and global warming
- Loss of forests ecological role as carbon sinks.
- Reduced water quantity and quality for domestic and industrial uses in big cities
Mkaa Endelevu, East Africa’s first FSC Certified Charcoal company, provides both a local and export alternative to consumers that reduces the reliance on natural forests and eco-systems. Using our innovative and environmentally friendly processes of converting reclaimed wood waste into charcoal briquettes, Mkaa Endelevu can offer a high quality alternative to the unsustainable charcoal trade currently plaguing not only Africa but much of Europe, The Middles-East and The Americas.