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Improvements in charcoal production and the environmental implications: Potential for the invasive Prosopis juliflora in Kenya

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Charcoal is a common woodfuel in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Unsustainable wood sourcing and inefficient carbonization result into negative environmental impacts. This action research aimed at building the capacity for sustainable charcoal production including `improving the traditional earth mound kiln (TEK) that is used by 99% of charcoal producers in Kenya. Small stems and branches of the invasive Prosopis juliflora were used and produced quality charcoal with 28 kJ/g which will save trees. Improved earth mound kiln (IEK) increased charcoal yield by 49% per mass of sun dried wood fed into the kiln and reduced emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons by 40%, 49% and 44% respectively. Net charcoal yield by a mass of dry wood in TEK and IEK was 26.4% and 28.4% respectively. Communication and capacity development on sustainable charcoal benefit people and environment. Studies on sustainable charcoal and effects on dryland socio-ecological systems will be needed.

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