Firewood for income in a degrading landscape
Part V of VII-part series: WHAT THE WORLD CAN LEARN FROM WEST AFRICA’S UNHEARD
Zizigna Bagambagui, community of Gwenia, Kassena – Nankana District West, Upper East Region, Ghana
With soils becoming increasingly infertile in Ghana’s Kassena–Nankana District, many people in farming communities – especially women – rely heavily on income from tree products and off-farm sources such as petty trading. Firewood is one of those tree products.
But as forests and other tree cover degrade in the area, firewood is also increasingly difficult to find. Wood from shea trees (Vitellaria paradoxa) is popular in charcoal-making, so traditional taboos that forbade cutting of a live tree or harvesting anything but dead branches are breaking down.
Competition for this resource is growing, creating a conflict over how shea trees should be harvested. There is also increasing pressure on shea and other trees as more and more people are turning to firewood as a source of income. Paradoxically, Zizigna Bagambagui tells us that though tree resources are declining, prices for firewood are dropping because of the growing number of people harvesting and selling firewood. Bagambagui recalls how, in the past when there were more trees, soils were more fertile and life was much easier than it is today.
WATCH Part I: Trees “for the grandchildren” in a community forest
WATCH Part II: Losing farmland and forest to a national park
WATCH Part III: Keeping the peace in a national park buffer zone
WATCH Part IV: Trees and wildfire worries
WATCH Part VI: When ancestral lands fall victim to an international border
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