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Charcoal production in the Mopane woodlands of Mozambique: what are the trade-offs with other ecosystem services?

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http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/lookup/doi/10.1098/rstb.2015.0315
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20150315
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Volume371
Issue number1703
Early online date8 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2016

Abstract

African woodlands form a major part of the tropical grassy biome and support the livelihoods of millions of rural and urban people. Charcoal production in particular is a major economic activity, but its impact on other ecosystem services is little studied. To address this, our study collected biophysical and social datasets, which were combined in ecological production functions, to
assess ecosystem service provision and its change under different charcoal production scenarios in Gaza Province, southern Mozambique. We found that villages with longer histories of charcoal production had experienced declines in wood suitable for charcoal, firewood and construction, and tended to have lower perceived availabilities of these services. Scenarios of
future charcoal impacts indicated that firewood and woody construction services were likely to trade-off with charcoal production. However, even under the most extreme charcoal scenario, these services were not completely lost. Other provisioning services, such as wild food, medicinal plants and grass, were largely unaffected by charcoal production. To reduce the future impacts of charcoal production, producers must avoid increased intensification of charcoal extraction by avoiding the expansion of species and sizes of trees used for charcoal production. This is a major challenge to land managers and policymakers in the area.

This article is part of the themed issue ‘Tropical grassy biomes: linkingecology, human use and conservation’.

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