Fighting forest degradation with cleaner cookstoves and fuels
When Amalia went to her local market in Sumpango, Guatemala, to learn about cookstoves, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She had heard about new stove models that used less wood and produced less smoke, but she had yet to see one.
By the time she left the market that day, Amalia had made the decision to purchase one of the new models for her home.
Two months later, as she stands over her new stove cooking, her infant son on her back and her three-year-old holding her leg, she can’t stop talking about how little smoke is coming from the stove and how much less wood she uses for cooking.
It’s so much better than my previous stove,” said Amalia. “It saves me time and money, there’s almost no smoke, and it uses much less wood.”
Today, the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) released a new report that showcases some of the impact of cookstoves on forests, while highlighting the role the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (Alliance) and others are leading in the fight against forest degradation by providing greater access to clean and efficient cooking technologies around the world.
The NYDF report highlights the progress made towards the 10 goals of the original declaration endorsed and adopted in September 2014 at the UN Climate Summit by over 180 governments, companies and business associations, indigenous peoples’ and civil society organizations. The Alliance is one of many signatories of the NYDF coalition that is working towards some ambitious, milestone targets: To end natural forest lost by 2030 with a 50% reduction by 2020. Through continued collaboration with partners and change-makers, these targets aren’t such a far reach.
Nearly three billion people around the world burn solid fuels such as wood and charcoal over open fires or in inefficient stoves for daily cooking. Over 50% of all wood harvested worldwide is used as fuel, and an estimated 30% of that wood fuel is unsustainable. Developing countries are the main contributors, with up to 75% of wood fuel harvested used for cooking, heating, and lighting. The need to combat forest degradation through scalable interventions cannot be ignored. While the 10 goals of the NYDC range from restoring 150 million hectares of degraded landscapes by 2020 to strengthening forest governance transparency, the Alliance leads action on Goal #4:
Support alternatives to deforestation driven by basic needs (such as subsistence farming and reliance on fuel wood for energy) in ways that alleviate poverty and promote sustainable and equitable development
The Alliance seeks to address forest loss by supporting economically sustainable alternatives to slash-and-burn farming and unsustainable harvesting of fuel wood from natural forests through greater access to clean and efficient cookstoves such as the one Amalia now uses regularly to cook meals for her family. These types of cookstoves reduce forest degradation by either replacing the use of wood fuel with alternative energy sources or reducing the consumption of wood fuel. There has been a substantial growth in the use of cookstoves that reduce wood fuel consumption. Steady growth has continued in their global distribution, with a nearly 40% increase over the previous year in the number of cookstoves distributed in 2014. Clean and/or efficient cookstove programs also reduce cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses associated with wood fuel burning, in particular in women and children who are disproportionately affected by traditional wood fuel use.
Clean cookstoves provide a direct link between forest and people which is unique among the many solutions included in the NYDF. Providing a tool that decreases reliance on fuel wood for energy not only protects forests but also provides other important benefits to people’s lives, while supporting more equitable and sustainable development. NYDF is a collaborative effort that the Alliance embarked on and significant strides have been made towards achieving its goals through the efforts of its dedicated consortium of partners. However, meeting all 10 goals of the NYDF will require the continued resolve of its signatories. The Alliance will continue to lead the scale up of clean cooking to ensure its integration within global programming to address deforestation and forest degradation to protect our environment.