Forest Policy and Woodfuel Markets in Malawi
Natural Resources Forum, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp. 143-152, 1995
10 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2008
Date Written: 1995
Forestry and energy policies in Malawi place the blame for the country's high rate of deforestation on the demand for woodfuel. The government has been involved in a range of questionable supply-side initiatives, as well as in a number of interventions in woodfuel markets, with the objective of slowing rates of deforestation. It seeks to encourage farmers to grow woodfuel to meet market demands, and has provided subsidies to do so. The Forest Department has kept prices for firewood from its plantations low, both in order to discourage the market for wood from free resources, and because of concerns about the impact o fhigh producer prices on the urban poor. In doing so, the government is less able to rely on the market to provide producers with the incentive to plant trees to meet market demands. In any event, the market accounts for a relatively small proportion of total woodfuel demand. Policies do not distinguish between rural household demands and the specific market demands which are having the greatest impact on deforestation: woodfuel for urban markets, for tobacco curing, and for small industries. These, coupled with the expansion of the estate sector, have had a far greater impact on woodland clearance than rural, subsistence woodfuel demands. Rural household energy demands need to be addressed from a much broader perspective which considers the household's larger needs for tree based products or outputs: income, food, fibre, fodder, soil fertility, as well as for fuel.
Keywords: Malawi, woodfuel, household energy
JEL Classification: O13, Q23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation