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Banning charcoal isn’t the way to go; Kenya should make it sustainable

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The government is concerned that charcoal production is leading to the destruction of Kenya’s environment. Charcoal is made when wood is burned in a low oxygen environment and burns off compounds like water a process that can take days. Some tree species like Acacias are preferred as their charcoal burns longer. But once these preferred tree species are all used up producers will fell any tree. When trees are cut down and the land is left bare rain water runs off the surface eroding fertile topsoil. Groundwater supplies are also affected because tree or vegetation cover ensures water seeps into underground wells. That said there are some big misconceptions about the charcoal sector and its role in environmental damage. The production and use of charcoal is not a bad thing in itself. Trees are a form of renewable energy. Secondly charcoal receives most of the blame for the loss of trees but other factors – like the clearing of land for agriculture or pasture – are also to blame. Kenya has imposed a charcoal ban before. The bans are largely based on the assumption that charcoal is acquired from government land. But most charcoal in Kenya is sourced from privately owned and managed land. This makes the bans ineffectual.
    Publication year



    Njenga, M..


    Groundwater, Trees, Firewood, Households

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