Forests in south India that had become degraded due to excessive fuelwood extraction recovered after villagers living nearby switched to biogas for their cooking fuel needs, according to an international study.
Published last month (July) in the journal Global Ecology and Conservation, the study “Impact of biogas interventions on forest biomass and regeneration in southern India” reports a notable increase in biomass and regeneration of forests close to villages that use biogas for cooking, as compared to forests near villages without biogas provision.
This study shows that if you reliably provide a viable and affordable alternative, people will reduce their fuelwood use, Meghna Agarwala, lead author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at Columbia University, told SciDev.Net.
Fuelwood is a major source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in South Asia and East Africa. In 2011, two-thirds of rural households in India used fuelwood for cooking, which has also been linked to increased risk of respiratory diseases.
The use of biogas has long been popular in India but according to Agarwala biogas units often lack maintenance leading to abandonment or underuse.
However, there are success stories. Read the full article by Neha Jain on SciDev.Net