Charcoal for sale near the road. Malindi, Africa. Photo: MariusLtu / Getty Images.

Fuelwood and charcoal are critical sources of energy throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Heavy reliance on these traditional woodfuels can contribute to land cover change, declines in terrestrial carbon stocks, loss of biodiversity, and increased emissions.

Despite their dominant role in the region’s energy mix – and the resulting impacts – woodfuels have not been well-incorporated into the integrated assessment models (IAMs) that are used to inform researchers and policy-makers about current and alternative development pathways.

This report highlights the need for combining IAMs with other modelling approaches to improve understanding of the interactions between energy, economy, and land use in regions that rely heavily on woodfuels. It examines the strengths and limitations of different modelling approaches and suggests that combining approaches, though challenging, could result in more informative outcomes.