Geospatial Mapping of Charcoal and Fuelwood Renewability in Haiti and Potential Environmental Benefits from Woodfuel Interventions

This analysis examines woodfuel sustainability in Haiti and explores the impacts of near- term household energy interventions. Woodfuels represent nearly 80% of Haiti’s primary energy supply and the country has long been considered an archetypal case of woodfuel-driven deforestation. However, recent analyses have questioned whether woodfuel demand is as impactful as it is often portrayed. We present the results of a study that 1) quantifies non-renewable biomass (NRB), 2) identifies “high-risk areas” where biomass sustainability is a major concern, and 3) examines the impacts of nine of interventions focused on woodfuel demand reduction.

We accomplish this by developing a series of computer simulations using the MoFuSS methodology. MoFuSS (Modeling Fuelwood Sustainability Scenarios), was developed as a tool to analyze landcover change induced by woodfuel demand. This assessment ran simulations between 2003 and 2027, with interventions starting in 2017. Results show that under a business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, existing woody biomass resources are insufficient to meet Haiti’s increasing demand for wood energy. We project that stocks of above-ground (woody) biomass (AGB) will decline by 3-20% by 2027. This represents an annual loss of 100,000-800,000 tons of wood from the landscape, which is equivalent to 0.2-1.5 million tons of CO2/yr.

Our simulations show that these impacts would be lessened if interventions to reduce woodfuel demand were successfully implemented over the next decade. In the most aggressive scenario, woodfuel demand declines by ~44% by 2027, which leads to an overall reduction in wood harvesting of 6-11% relative to BAU, a 41% reduction in NRB, and stabilize projected declines in AGB. Other, more modest scenarios would show similar, but less dramatic results. In addition, while all of the woodfuel demand-reduction measures reduce NRB extraction and slow or stop Haiti’s gradual loss of AGB, the current results include a wide range of uncertainty. Key parameters like the magnitude of charcoal imports from the Dominican Republic, the extent to which trees outside forests are utilized for charcoal and their productivity, and the accuracy of the land-use land cover data are not well characterized. In order to narrow the uncertainty and better understand the potential benefits of interventions, we propose several steps including consultations with additional experts within Haiti and targeted fieldwork.

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