The extraction and burning of woody biomass at rates exceeding re-growth results in net emissions of CO2. However, the authors argue that broad generalizations about the impacts of this are inherently misleading, because patterns of woodfuel supply and demand, and impacts on vegetation vary greatly from place to place. In addition, vegetation responds to disturbance in ways that may impact harvesting practices, changing species preference, extraction sites, and volumes extracted.

A robust and widely applicable method for quantifying the amount of non-renewable woody biomass is urgently needed for a wide variety of applications, including cookstove carbon-offset projects, national GHG inventories, and sustainable forest management strategies under REDD+.

The authors developed “Mofuss” (Modeling fuelwood savings scenarios), a dynamic model that simulates the spatiotemporal effect of fuelwood harvesting on the landscape vegetation and that accounts for savings in non-renewable woody biomass from reduced consumption. They tested the model in western Honduras. Mofuss represents real-life situations more closely at the landscape level regarding traditional fuelwood harvesting for residential purposes, but further improvements are needed to integrate other common patterns and process associated with fuelwood supply and demand.