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Crisis to Context: the Fuelwood debate

Working papers

In the 1970s there was a surge of interest in the issue of fuelwood. For the most part this was propelled by the 1973 rise in fossil fuel prices and associated energy concerns, as well as certain influential publications on the issue such as that by Eckholm (1975) entitled the ‘Other Energy Crisis: Fuelwood’1. Wood fuel demand was seen to be outpacing sustainable supply, and catastrophic projections for year 2000 were presented in the form of a ‘fuelwood gap’ (see United Nations, 1980). A study by FAO in 1981 estimated that 2000 million people were dependent on fuelwood and other biomass fuel, of which more than 100 million were unable to meet minimum requirements sustainably. Projections for the year 2000 suggested 2.4 thousand million people would suffer acute deficits (FAO, 1981). The lack of viable alternatives to reduce the number of people dependent upon fuelwood for their energy needs was also emphasised.

Robert Nash and Cecilia Luttrell