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University of Eldoret
Biomass fuels account for much of domestic energy consumption in many developing countries. Despite the significance of these fuels in domestic energy provision, their unsustainable consumption often occurs at the expense of environmental conservation. Agroforestry has often been cited as a possible intervention to reduce high dependence on natural resources, which is a characteristic of many developing countries. This study aimed to analyze the determinants of choice of sources of fuelwood and fuelwood consumption, with a view to contributing to policy discussions on reducing environmental degradation through agroforestry interventions. Cross-sectional data was obtained from two hundred and fifty four (254) randomly selected households from Mbarali district in south-western Tanzania. Household data was complemented with information from focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Multinomial logit regression model was used to identify the determinants of choice of fuelwood sources while the ordinary least squares regression model was used to identify determinants of household consumption of fuelwood. The results show that 88% of households consider fuelwood to be the most important fuel especially for cooking and that 74% of households that consume fuelwood depend on natural forests as the main source. The choice of fuelwood sources was influenced by species composition of the source and some household characteristics. Significant determinants of fuelwood consumption included age of the household head, income and price of kerosene. The results show that consumers, both households and other end users preferred Faidherbia albida for fuelwood which is the key agroforestry tree species in the area. Thus, fuelwood consumption maybe a threat to the success of agroforestry interventions that promote Faidherbia albida for soil fertility and environmental conservation. To exploit the potential of agroforestry, alternative sources of energy should be made available and affordable to the community; in addition to fostering strategies to promote adoption of efficient use of available energy. Cultivation of tree species with characteristics similar to the preferred fuelwood species, for instance, Acacia tortilis is also recommended to divert long term fuelwood demand away from natural forests and to reduce competition with Faidherbia albida. To the extent that consumer preferences are likely to change over time, further research using panel datasets is necessary to reveal inter temporal preferences for fuelwood sources.