We have selected most recent peer-reviewed publications showing that biomass stoves implementation can improve household income and reduce deforestation caused by uncontrolled fuelwood collection.  We often heard that bioenergy and biofuels cannot be economically and environmentally viable options.  Fuelwood is one of the most contributing factors driving deforestation in rural communities in Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Fuelwood and charcoal are widely used by African households instead of kerosene, electricity and other “conventional” fuels, because they are cheaper. In many countries, consumption of fuelwood and charcoal now exceeds natural replenishment rates; this has serious consequences for soil fertility, especially in the countryside surrounding towns.

The annual consumption of fuelwood in Brazil has been estimated to be equivalent to approximately 180 million oil barrels, or 13.3% of all Brazilian primary energy use. Fuelwood consumption in the country is greater than the use of wood for industrial use.

The US Energy Department has announced up to $2.5 million available in 2012 for applied research to advance clean biomass cookstove technologies for use in developing countries.

To bring about change it is argued that first, a new image of biomass energy must be articulated, which offers a compelling and achievable vision of modernisation in production, processing, distribution and consumption. This requires an integrated set of measures to communicate the message of change, promote enabling framework conditions, expand sustainable biomass supplies, strengthen regional economies and value-addition, and capitalise on recent technological advancement.

Valorisation of forest resources is essential to stimulate sustainable production, conversion and consumption, and can be achieved through interventions in governance, taxation, regulation and technology. The modernisation process should capitalise on momentous technological advances in stoves, kilns, processing systems and means of salvaging waste energy for productive use. Replication and scale-up of the modernisation movement can be leveraged using new and innovative funding sources.

We here demonstrate with 5 recent programs (2013) how biomass stoves and improved systems used in households can reduce drammatically economic losses and improve household heatlh while promoting renewable energy and environmental benefits.

Evidence 1: Programs in India, Nepal and Peru showed a saving from 27 to 66 % (fuel consumption per capita).

  • Field testing workshops were conducted for three stove organizations.
  • Fuel consumption savings ranged from 27 to 66%.
  • User training and stove maintenance had a substantial impact on fuel savings.
  • Continued efforts to relate laboratory and field testing are needed.

Article: Impacts on household fuel consumption from biomass stove programs in India, Nepal, and Peru (2013)

The next video on biomass stoves in Indonesia shows clarly how biomass and bioenergy can avoid time losses (collection basically made by women) and health and fuel expenses increasing food access and security

Evidence 2: Traditional cook stoves replaced and save 14,5 millions tons of biomass in Pakistan

  • The total potential of biomass saving through replacement of all TCS (traditional cooking systems) with ICS (improved cooking systems) has been estimated as 14.5 million tonnes.
  • The paper concludes that more than half of the total biomass consumption for cooking and heating purposes could be saved through substitution of TCS with ICS.
  • The dissemination of ICS would also result in the conservation of forests, reduction in the indoor air pollution level and associated health hazards etc.

Article: Potential of Biomass Conservation Through Dissemination of Efficient Cook Stoves in Pakistan(2013)


Evidence 3: Rural Kenya programs found that improved rural stoves can decrease the fuelwood collection 

  • Kitchen performance tests carried out to assess fuel use effectiveness of rocket stoves.
  • Two study designs: cross-sectional and before–after.
  • Significant reduction in fuel use associated with the improved stove use.
  • Implications of the findings on the environment and human welfare showed great benefit

Article: A comparison of fuel use between a low cost, improved wood stove and traditional three-stone stove in rural Kenya (2013)


Evidence 4: Improved biomass (biogas mainly) determined low fossil energy dependence in NW China

  • Results show that energy from biomass represents the largest share of total energy supply, and that 41.15% of total energy is consumed for home heating and cooking.
  • results of the study revealed that the structure of rural household energy consumption is undergoing a transformation from traditional low-efficiency biomass domination to integrated consumption of traditional and renewable energies.
  • Renewable energy will significantly contribute to the sustainable development of rural households.

Article: Rural household energy consumption and its implications for eco-environments in NW China: A case study (2013)

Evidence 5: Biomass stoves reducing women chronicle obstructive pulmonary disease in China

  • Authors measured current COPD prevalence and PM2.5 concentrations in rural Guizhou, China.
  • Costs and health benefits of possible household stove interventions were estimated.
  • Annual average PM2.5 exposure is reduced from 300–400 μg/m3 to 90–180 μg/m3.
  • Annually 0.6–3.2 new cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among women are avoided per 1000 households.
  • A probabilistic cost-benefit analysis shows large net benefits of interventions.

Article: Upgrading to cleaner household stoves and reducing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among women in rural China — A cost-benefit analysis (2013)

The following video makes gives some idea about how dedicated energy plantations with woody materials could help in Haiti.

Evidence 6: Biomass promotion and reforestation in marginal lands are a driver to increase income and reforestation in Vietnam

  • The study suggests that the forest scarcity path was in part at work in Vietnam: new policies allocating forestry land to households, local scarcity of forest products, and development of remote demand for timber contributed to forest cover increases.
  • he development of markets for agricultural inputs and outputs did also contribute to reforestation by raising agricultural productivity in mountain paddies and maize fields. This reinforced the concentration of agriculture on the most suitable land.

Article: The causes of the reforestation in Vietnam


As shown in several projects conducted by the NGO Practical Action, women are the main beneficiaries while promoting biomass improved stoves


Evidence 7: Several projects have been showing that reforestation is compatible with biomass production for cooiking and heating but also for power selfconsumption in rural industries in developing countries.

  • Several species are suitable for woody biomass in the tropics as shown in this article (2013) in Costa Rica.
  • Reforestation success has been linked to long term drivers (like energy uses) to avoid failures as shown in several tropical countries .
  • A study revealed about 350 Mha for reforestation in tropical and semi-tropical areas. If such land is used for energy plantation aimed at substitutive energy production by power generation, the CO2 mitigation effect can be evaluated on the assumption of short rotation energy plantation(6-year rotation), plantation area (1Mha), biomass productivity (10.5 dry ton/ha/y), energy efficiency of power generation(0.27), etc. Assuming these factors, the net carbon dioxide mitigation effect is 1.4 billion t-C on 340 Mha.

Evidence 8: Converting from traditional biomass to improved bioenergy systems can increase energy situation in Nepal

  • Use of biogas reduces the fuelwood consumption by 2 tons/yr and workload by 1100 h/yr.
  • Similarly, use of improved cooking stove can increases the efficiency up to 15–20% and reduces greenhouse gases of 1.09 tCO2eq/yr as compared to the traditional cooking stove.

Article: Conversion of traditional biomass into modern bioenergy systems: A review in context to improve the energy situation in Nepal

Solutions to the deforestation problem must be anchored in programmes that improve socioeconomic security of the poor, enable them to procure alternative (non-biomass) energy and lighten pressure on forest resources dependence for energy. Framing of macro-economic policies should give consideration to their implications for the poor and the natural environment.