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2.1. Woodfuels and the Ecosystems

Mozambique is endowed with many types of indigenous energy resources. Miombo, mopane and acacia woodlands are the major sources of energy in major cities, like Maputo, Beira, Nampula, Quelimane, Chimoio, Tete, Xai-Xai and Chókwè, with firewood and charcoal as the principal products. Annual woodfuel consumption is estimated at 16 million m3, with miombo woodlands accounting for 85% of total household energy requirements (Brigham, Chihongo and Chidumayo 1997). However, a continued supply of this renewable energy resource can be assured only if proper management is applied to the existing woodlands.

Some workers suggest that sustainable natural resource management can best be achieved in a holistic manner, i.e. universal scientific knowledge coupled with the indigenous knowledge systems, which constitute the bulk of traditional management practices. This, process requires the empowerment of local communities, since by so doing would encourage them to maintain their resources on a sustainable basis trough application of indigenous knowledge systems and the modern technologies. Indigenous Knowledge System is part of traditional management practices and is passed down orally from generation to generation.

People have free access to the forest for fuelwood and small building material production (Kir, 1984). Rural subsistence firewood collection rarely affects the natural woodlands structure, function and composition because only dead wood or woodcut for other purposes is collected (Chidumayo, 1997, Mangue, unpublished). The location of a specific cutting site, for commercial purpose, is bound up with physical accessibility, but otherwise production level is determined by local requirement irrespective of the resource capacity (Kir 1984). The sale of charcoal or firewood in a stable rural areas far from urban areas, not under pressure, is but one of a host of livelihood strategies called upon to meet specific cash needs, as a contingency in case of crop failure or simple as opportunities present themselves.

Although, in Mozambique, the rate of deforestation is relatively low when compared with other tropical countries 0.23% per year (Saket, 1994), some areas in the country present high rates. Clear felling of trees for charcoal production and agriculture most of them using fire as a tool have been appointed as the major causes of deforestation (Mangue, 1998). Maputo and areas located along the main transport corridor present rates above 1% (Saket, 1994). Expansion of crop production (Shifting agriculture) due to population growth, has, so far, been based on enlargement of cultivation areas through mainly forest encroachment. Forestland loss due to agriculture is estimated at 15,000 ha per annum, but it has a tendency to rise substantially by the introduction of new agricultural area, for traditionally cash crops like cotton. Crop expansion at the expense of diminishing forestland is likely to continue due to the absence of land-use criteria, which would otherwise regulate land allocation but, in the mean time, would give an emphasis on increasing the productivity of a unit area under cultivation.

2.2. Profile on the Household Energy

In rural areas, almost 100% of the energy consumed comes from woodfuel. The average annual consumption of firewood is estimated at 5 000 kg and 635 kg for household in rural and urban areas, respectively. Kerosene is used mostly to start fire and lighting purposes. In urban areas, the majority of the population, especially, the low-income households are almost totally dependent on charcoal, firewood for cooking, and space heating.

The existing data show that the household continues relies on traditional woodfuels. The use of commercial sources of energy, such as kerosene, LPG and electricity declined dramatically in the mid-80’s, mainly due to supply constraints (BTG, 1990; Kir, 1984). Lack of foreign exchange restricted the importing of kerosene and LPG while electricity supply became unreliable. The latter was due to factors such as lack of maintenance and the effect of the civil conflict over the transmission lines.

With almost no alternative fuels available, urban households had to rely heavily on woodfuels (BTG, 1990). Woddfuels supply, however, was also seriously limited by security situation in the field. The security situation affected considerably the activities of wood cutters and charcoal makers in the forest. The areas close to the main urban settlements have thus become the main sources of woodfuel.

The unavailability of alternative energy sources for urban households has also resulted in rising costs and short supply of woodfuels. In the period of 1981 – 1984, prices for woodfuel, set by the free market, increased ten-fold in Maputo, compared to three-fold increase in general prices (BTG, 1990). Thus price for woodfuels, the only household energy sources available to a large proportion of the urban population, have become prohibitively high, and were causing significant financial and social hardship for the lower and even middle-income urban household (Kir, 1984).

It has been estimated that, by 80s, 10 – 30% shortfall in domestic energy supply, in Maputo, caused a disruption of energy supplies (BTG, 1990). A major priority for the GoM in the household energy sector was therefore to increase the availability of all energy carriers in urban areas, particularly woodfuels, but also LPG, kerosene and electricity. To this end, the GoM has initiated programs to increase fuel availability and to try to reduce overall fuel costs for as many households as possible.

The strategy, which as been adopted was therefore multi-faced, as it has become apparent that an enhanced woodfuel supply program alone, would not solve the problem of domestic shortages. Thus, electricity supply in Maputo, for example, has been made more reliable through upgrading of the 60 MW power station to the west of the city (BTG, 1990). A program to increase household electrification has followed this. Coals stoves have also been introduced and tested, along with an improved coal distribution and marketing program. The rationale of these programs was to encourage those consumers who can afford it to move up the energy ladder, thus reducing the demand for woodfuels, the energy carriers at the bottom of the ladder. In Maputo this accounted, in 1990, for more than 70% of net domestic energy consumption.

2.3. Profile of Maputo Household Energy

The population of Maputo is estimated at 989.400 (INE 1997). Studies done by National Directorate of Forestry and Wildlife suggest that over 80% of the Maputo population depend on fuelwood for household cooking and heating (Mangue, unpublished). The high demand of this commodity in Maputo has been appointed by most workers as the major driving force on deforestation and likely degradation of natural woodlands. Saket (1994) estimates that deforestation over the period between 1970 -1988 in Maputo was at 20%. However, the large- scale deforestation occurred soon after the peace agreement in 1992, between FRELIMO and RENAMO the two belligerents due to displacement of people, disregard of traditional management practices and population growth (Mangue, unpublished).

Although forest is completely depleted by charcoal production in Maputo, fuelwood supply remains the primary commodity for the majority of households. This situation is likely to persist since alternative fuel sources like electricity are not affordable to the majority of households.

The current biomass in Licuati and its adjacent areas is about 744 117 tones of which 73% represent the species sought for charcoal (Fernandes and Monjane 1997). If we take into account that the only forests remaining in Maputo Province are the Licuati Forest located in Matutuine district and Libombo Forest located on Libombo mountains in Namaacha district and add the increasing demand and the pressure put over such fragile ecosystems, dependent on episodic rainfall, there is serious concern regarding the future of these ecosystems (Mangue, unpublished).

The role of different energy carriers, and especially the importance of woodfuels, particularly fuelwood, is further illustrated by household energy surveys carried out in Maputo. In 1980, the city was home to around 750 000 inhabitants, but in the 80s this number sharply increased as the population was swelled by hundreds of thousands of refugees from the rural areas. The projected population size for the 2000 (assuming the growth rate at 2.4%) is estimated at 1.018.938 inhabitants, spread over the cement city, or formal Maputo and the green belt, or informal Maputo. Almost all households in Cement City are connected to the electricity grid, as compared to less than 50% of the households in the green belt.

The Ministry of Industry and Energy (MIE) first estimated household fuelwood consumption in Maputo in 1985. According to the survey, 70% of the energy consumption was obtained from woodfuels and kerosene (75% of woodfuels and 25% kerosene), electricity and gas providing the remaining 30%. The average monthly costs of household energy stood at MM 6 000 for household (at office prices).

Woodfuel surveys carried out by DNFFB in 1985 and 1988 showed that, under the assumption that woodfuels meet 70% of the total household energy demands, woodfuel supply available per household was well under the minimum energy requirement for cooking (BTG, 1990). At end use conversion efficiencies of 8% (fuelwood) and 12.5% (charcoal), only 56% (1985) and 37 % (1988) of the requirements could be fulfilled, an indication that fuelwoods could not be provided in sufficient quantity at reasonable prices and therefore had become unaffordable for many households. The major part, 90% (1985) and 93 % (1988) of woodfuels was in the form of firewood and the remaining 10% (1985) and 7 % (1988) being supplied as charcoal.


The most recent study on household energy consumption, published in 1990, was carried out in 1988. The study showed a clear difference in energy use patterns in the two sections of Maputo. Average total monthly consumption of primary energy per household was 7 387 MJ in the cement city while only 5 250 MJ, or almost 30% less, in informal Maputo. In the cement city, gas and electricity are the main cooking fuels, whereas in the informal Maputo, mainly firewood and charcoal is used (BTG, 1990).

However, due to the absence of connections to the electricity network, and the high cost of electric and gas stoves (MMZ 120 000 and 5 to 7 million in 1990 and 1999, respectively), many households in informal Maputo have had no option but to use domestic fuels from lower down the energy ladder, as is shown in the following table.



Table 4. Percentage of households using various fuels as their main energy source for cooking

Energy source

Cement City (%)

Informal Maputo (%)













Source: BTG Biomass Technology Group B.V., University of Twente, The Netherlands (1990).

2.3.1. Common Woodfuel Species

Demand and harvest of indigenous species for woodfuels, i.e. as firewood or material for carbonisation is selective and differ from region to region. Only certain species particularly hardwoods which give a hot fire, produce little smoke and long lasting fire are preferred (Mangue, unpublished). In accordance with recent studies (BTG, 1990; Adamo et al. 1997; Vilanculos 1998; Mangue, unpublished; Muchanga, J., Simão, O. e Halafo, J. 1997; Howell, D. and Convery, I. 1997; Mangue and Wate, 1998), the most common trees species for charcoal and firewood are:

Micaia or munga (Acacia nilotica or Acacia senegalensis or Acacia tortilis)

Messassa (Brachystegia speciformis)

M’fute (B. boehmii)

Nhongue or Chongue (Antidesma venosum)

Inconola (Terminalia sericea)

Monzo (Combretum imberbe)

Shiwondzwane (C. molle)

Chanfuta (Afzelia quanzensis)

Nulo (Balanites maughamii)

Nkwakwa (Strychnos madagascariensis)

Mudikwa or Palmeira (Borassus aethiopicum)

Chanato or Missano or Missanye (Colophospermum mopane)

Tsani (Dolichandrone alba)

Tondjua or Mpovatako (Fernandoa magnifica)

Cimboma or Mucimboma (Hirtella zanguebarica)

Micheu or Palmeira (Hyphaene sp.)

Mutarara (Lecaniodiscus franxinifolia)

Pacassa (Lonchocarpus capassa)

Mussequesse (Piliostigma thonningii)

Panga-Panga (Millettia stuhlmannii)

Missanda (Erythropheleum lasianthum)

Newtonia hildebrandtii

Albizzia forbesii

Combretum hereroense and

Dichrostachys cinerea

2.4. Wood energy and human population changes

The population distribution is highly related to the climate (rainfall and temperature) and controlled by the presence of Tse-tse fly. With an estimated population of 16 million heavily concentrated in two coastal regions, between Maputo and Inhambane in south and between the Zambezi delta and Pemba in the north, a region characterised by dominance of Brachystegia spiciformis (natural vegetation) and Anacardium occidental and Coccus noccifera (agricultural crops). The predominant land use system is slash-and-burn agriculture (Mangue, 1998).

Firewood in stable rural communities is gathered from fallen or dead branches in the woodland site or trees cleared for agricultural purpose. However, not every dead tree is suitable for use. Harvest of trees and shrubs for charcoal production is selective (Mangue, unpublished). Only certain species particularly hardwoods, which give a hot fire, produce little smoke and long lasting fire, are preferred. However, when the resource is scarce this habits and conservation attitudes are likely to change. Civil unrest and displacement of people have been widely appointed as the chief responsible for the abandonment of some indigenous techniques. For example, in Jabula (Maputo Province), the most threatened regulado by ex-soldiers and immigrants, there is marked distinction between native dwellers and immigrants on the way they gather firewood or produce charcoal. While the first group pays high respect to edible fruit species and sacred zones the later opt on clear felling (Mangue, unpublished).

Although indigenous knowledge systems are still well known in most rural areas, currently they are not full observed. The recent civil unrest, rural-urban migration and displacement of people for neighbouring countries, and returning refugees have weakened traditional community leadership. Deforestation due to charcoal production threatens not only the loss of plant resources but also the indigenous knowledge systems and value of several endemic species.

No change is expected in the prevailing wood consumption pattern in the near future. Hence, fuelwood is anticipated to continue with its overwhelming dominance in total wood consumption. Within this general pattern, however, trend in the consumption of major products will likely show certain variation along with rising income and with changes in population and its composition (Kir, 1984).

Household fuelwood, charcoal and small building material demand are expected to be the function of population growth and its predicted rural-urban composition. Total rural household fuelwood consumption in 1969 was estimated at 4.7 million m3. This figure was based on FAO’s estimate of per capita fuelwood consumption of 0.665 m3 for Africa as well as on estimated population of the country at the time. Kir (1984) taking into account 1983 population and its rural-urban consumption, and an average fuelwood consumption of 1.2/person/year in the rural sector estimated total fuelwood consumption at 13,4 million m3 for that year. The curr ent population of the country is 16,099 200 inhabitants. If we consider today’s estimates of per capita consumption, in the order of 1.0 to 1.7 m3, which is regarded as more accurate according to observations in rural areas, the actual consumption is estimated at 16,099 200 to 27, 368 640 m3.

Table 5. Total urban and rural population and percentage of households without electricity of the country and per province.

Province and location

Population (000)

Households (%)



























Cabo Delgado













































Maputo City





Source: INE (1997)

2.5. Urban forest plantations for fuelwood and charcoal

A strong concern regarding the problem of energy supply and reforestation in the Country initiated earlier 1920s, with creation of the appropriate forestry department in Lourenço Marques (the currently called Maputo), with branches in all districts (the currently called Provinces). The establishment of the Limpopo and Marracuene woodfuel plantations for Maputo, for example, began during the Portuguese colonial regime (BTG, 1990).

During the 3rd Congress, which took place in 1977, Frelimo Party has formulated relevant Directives for the development of forestry and fuelwood programmes. This Post-independence effort from the Government, resulted in a number of government forestry projects such as: (i) FO-1 Forestry plantations in Manica for industrial purposes, (ii) FO-2 Woodfuel plantations around Maputo City, (iii) FO-4 Woodfuel plantations around Beira City, (iv) FO-5 Woodfuel plantations around Nampula City, (v) FO-6 Forestry inventory, construction of a sawmill in Pemba, Cabo Delgado, and (vi) FO-7 Small forest and other related industries in communal villages (Sofala, Nampula, Cabo Delgado). Among other projects, and with support of MONAP, a total of 25 projects aimed at agricultural and forestry development as well as forest plantations for industrial timber and woodfuel supply were established by State enterprises.

In September 1989, an evaluation of the MONAP - funded forestry projects was conducted, and included an inventory of all plantations in Mozambique (Astorga et al, 1989). A final figure of 40,000 ha of planted forest of Pinus spp. and Eucalyptus spp. was determined. About 50% of this area is in Manica province, under the control of IFLOMA, a parastatal forestry and timber enterprise.

Some studies recommend that fuelwood plantations with respect to potential fuelwood users be established on two different grounds:

Widely scattered non commercial small village wood lots for subsistence requirement;

Large scale commercial plantations to serve urban households and industry.

2.5.1. Small-scale Woodfuel Projects

Small-scale woodfuel production projects were recently launched early in 80’s for rural areas, with the collaboration of NGO’s and rural development and community development bodies. The basic philosophy behind this project was to organise small forest production centres (basically a nursery and small plantation), as sites from which forest technicians can train rural people (mostly woman) is simple forestry techniques.

Some of these projects were in operation at Namahacha, Nacala, Lichinga, Boane, Marracuene, Xai-Xai, Chokwé, Inhambane, Dondo and Rapale. Figures related to the performance of these projects area not available. However, reports from people who have visited them indicate that they have accomplished their objectives.

2.5.2. Namahacha and Salamanga Forests

These forests were mostly planted during the colonial period. About 700 ha were planted in Namahacha with a mixture of species, mostly coniferous and 300 ha of Eucalyptus spp. Eucalyptus timber is being cut out to supply industries in Maputo, for pallet production and boxes. In Salamanga 800 ha have been planted, however, most of the area has been severely affected by fire and no information on volumes is available.


2.5.3. IFLOMA

IFLOMA, commonly known as Manica Wood Industry, is a commercial State Forestry Company, operating mainly in Manica Province, concentrates on the exploitation of plantations for timber production. IFLOMA, was created few years after independence (March 30 1980), with a total amount of investment of 41,2 million US$, from ASDI and Mozambican Government contribution.

The installed capacity is reported to be as follows:

(i) forest harvesting 60,000 m3/yr,

(ii) sawn timber 26,000 m3/yr and

(iii) particle board 20,000 m3/yr.

IFLOMA has also 6,150 ha of Pinus, out of about 25,000 ha of planted forest consisting of Pinus and Eucalyptus.

Production of charcoal forms part of IFLOMA activities, using wood obtained from the clearing of areas for planting and from old eucalyptus plantation. The eucalyptus plantation in Penhalonga area, of about 200 ha, total volume of 137,000 m3, and more than 27 years old is used mainly for charcoal is reported by IFLOMA to be about 30 to 50 tons, produced in traditional mound kilns. This charcoal is used to supply its workers and a small part is sold in Manica and Chimoio.

Other available resources for carbonisation in this project, are the residues of the logging operations, calculated with the present extraction rate of 38% to be 4 000m3/year. This has the possibility of reaching about 10,000m3/year, when full capacity utilisation of the plantations is reached (BTG, 1990). The residues from the sawmill are insignificant, considering that IFLOMA has an integrated process, which uses off cut slabs as raw material for particleboard production. Other residues are fed to the boiler plant.

Export of small logs for pulp, will start soon, from the 1,500 ha of the Bandula eucalyptus plantations, with 600,000m3 available (BTG, 1990). Over a period of five years, it is calculated that about 20% of this volume could be used as fuelwood or carbonisation material, as it will not conform to specification for pulp production.

Since 1997, the Government of Mozambique has been seeking for potential investors for privatisation of IFLOMA.

2.5.4. Woodfuel Plantations

In view of the woodfuel scarcity in urban areas, and the pressing need to increase local supplies, GoM initiated by 80’s plantation projects for woodfuel near Maputo (FO-2), Beira (FO-4) and Nampula (FO-5). Targets for planting were determined on the basis of the perceived woodfuel needs at the time of the project conception, but bore no relation to the feasibility of them being met.

However, despite various constraints such as lacks of sufficient forestry knowledge, funds, spare parts, and the past civil conflict, a total of about 8,450 ha have been reforested, which is a long way from the originally proposed 69,000 ha (Astorga et al, 1989). However, much valuable experience and forest knowledge has been acquired in the process. Because external funding from MONAP ended, the World Bank proposed that a further US$ 1,4 million be spent over the next five years to ensure that this experience does not get lost.

Presently these projects have ceased their operation due to the adverse factors and the majority of stands or plantations will be given to the local communities.


The FO-2 project was located in Maputo Province in the areas surrounding the city of Maputo. The project headquarters was based in the district of Marracuene. It was established in 1977 by FAO, with the objective of producing biomass for fuelwood and charcoal to supply the city of Maputo. A target area of 24,000 ha was to be planted with fast growing species, aiming to supply 60% of Maputo’s charcoal. FO-2 comprises 4 locations:

Marracuene 1,003 ha

Michafutene 2,410 ha

Uambila 12,257 ha

Mucapana 11,943 ha

Marracuene, the oldest location, was afforested with Eucalyptus saligna, E. paniculata and E. grandis. All varieties were of fast growing with a rotation period of 8 to 10 years. Because of high mortality rates with the above varieties, a more drought-resistant variety, E. camaldulensis, was planted in several blocks, and was showing better results. Michafutene had 1,530 ha planted with the above mentioned species, the remaining 900 ha being timber producing species. At Uambila, where the largest project area was located, only 200 ha was planted between 1980 and 1986 when further afforestation was stopped because of security problems. A total of 10,000 ha remain unplanted. Mucapana, the second largest area selected. The afforestation started in 1979/1980. Currently, most of the areas have been sold out or transformed in "quintas" (small farms).

Initially each selected block was planted with a density of 1,111 trees per ha. Planting time is from January to March but as of last year this period was doubled, new commencing with the first rains in October and lasting six months. For various reasons, the number of trees planted per ha was increased. As a result of the initial loss of 30%, replanting was often required. To avoid this the number of seedlings was raised to 1,600 and later to 2,500 trees per ha, mainly by shortening the distances between them from 3 to 2 m’s’.

Having learnt from the initial years, E. saligna and E. grandis have been replaced by E. camaldulensis, which has a far greater drought resistance and thus a lower mortality rate. It is hoped and expected that in the near future the mortality rate will decrease, albeit slowly from year to year, finally to level at an inevitable and thus acceptable 10%.

At FO-2 harvesting of eucalyptus started in the early 1980s, felling trees approximately 10 years of age and planted in a 500 ha area during colonial times. Debarked and impregnated the trees were sold for poles for telephone - and electricity wiring. Through this, it was realised that there is an appreciable demand for poles. Thus, the woodfuel plantations have been drastically altered due to the present economic situation. The majority of the wood, 75% of the yield, is now sold as poles for overhead transmission (telephone and electricity) and construction. As the demand in these sectors is large, the profits were attractive and much higher than those from sales of fuelwood or charcoal. A further 15% of the yield was destined for fuelwood, leaving only 10% for conversion into charcoal.



The FO-4 project, located in Sofala Province, Dondo district, was begun in 1981, with the same objectives as the above project, to supply woodfuels to Beira City. About

2 000 ha had been planted by late 1989.

The trees at FO-4 have in general been performing much better than FO-2, and yields per hectare of as high as 102 m3/ha have been reported for some of the younger trees (Astorga et al, 1989).


FO-5 is situated in two areas. Repale, totalling 500 ha, 20 km from Nampula. Planting started in 1952. Nacavale, 1 000 ha, 50 km from the city. Afforestation started in 1984. The species planted are also Eucalyptus spp., being E. tereticornis and the previously mentioned E. camaldulensis. Their varieties have been selected on the basis of the lessons learnt from FO-2.


2.6. Community involvement

Although the local communities had been ignored for ages, they play a significant role in management of natural resources and conservation of biodiversity (Macucule and Mangue, 1998). The reason for this recognition and consequent change of approach and attitude is probably due to the previous unsuccessful programmes, which were characterised by exclusion of major actors. These new approaches are characterised by the recognition of local communities’ rights to their natural resources.

The National Directorate of Forestry and Wildlife is co-ordinating about 17 projects on community-based natural resources management aiming to re-establish a sound use and enhance production and conservation of natural resources and biological diversity in so called open access areas (for more detailed description of the project on management of natural resources with involvement of local commu nities see DNFFB, 1997).

2.7. Energy alternative sources

Consumption of electricity and gas among urban household is confined to those who have access to these sources and can afford initial investment for their utilisation (Kir 1984). Low income sector of urban population and the bulk of rural population, in general, neither has this access nor is in a position to obtain the means for utilising electricity or gas.

A study undertaken by the Ministry of Industry and Energy for urban Maputo in 1984 showed that only 30% of the population had access to electricity and gas, the remainder being served by one of the remaining sources. Although, the number of households with energy has increased in Maputo from 30% to 40.1%, most of the household, chiefly in informal Maputo, use electricity only for lighting and charcoal for cooking. The reasons for this option are many, but the following are the most common: (i) it is cheaper; (ii) it can be used in cheap portable stove; (iii) it is sold in small quantities, consequently more affordable; (iv) it needs no extra installations; (v) it confers a special taste to food.

Coal is not a common source of energy in Mozambican households, except for those near the coalmines in Tete (Fernandes et al. 1997). The weak preference for coal is likely to be related to the price. The coal consumed in Maputo, for example, is imported from South Africa.

2.8. Improved stoves

The stoves currently used for domestic purposes are not effective. According to the studies presented during the conference on charcoal and firewood (ETC Foundation 1988), about 93% of energy generated by the current stoves is wasted. However, despite this frightening figure, there are neither experiences (< biblio >) nor clear programmes aiming dissemination of the use of improved stoves in Mozambique.


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