Download files



Project time

February 2018 - April 2019


Develop and implement a scientifically grounded, replicable approach for determining spatially explicit estimates of unsustainable harvesting of woody biomass for woodfuel production and the relative net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in Malawi

Institutional settings

Study carried out by Rudi Drigo, Winrock International, for Tetra Tech, through USAID Contract number AID-612-TO-14-00003, Protecting Ecosystems and Restoring Forests in Malawi (PERFORM), under the Restoring the Environment through Prosperity, Livelihoods, and Conserving Ecosystems (REPLACE) Indefinite Quantity Contract.


Raster cell resolution = 100 m. Administrative = Enumeration Area (EA) (12,642 units)

Demand features

The consumption in the residential sector was based on data from Census 2008 and projections and from Integrated Household Survey No. 4 (IHS4) of 2016 for saturation and from the Malawi Biomass Energy Strategy 2009 (BEST 2009) for per capita consumption. Consumption estimates for other uses (commercial, industrial and public sectors), were based on BEST 2009 estimates reviewed, updated, and integrated on the basis of new references in the study carried out by Bennet Mataya. Demand estimates were produced for 2016 and for 2021 based on population projections and saturation trends

Supply features

The supply potential was estimated and mapped using land cover map (FAO LCCS 1990-2000-2010) and Carbon stock map (used as spatial proxy) and georeferenced field plot data from various inventories (494 plots). Productivity estimates were based on stock/MAI relation from national and international data. Three variants were considered: a "low" productivity variant based on IPCC ref. values and a "high" productivity variant based on observations referring to tropical broadleaves. The third variant was taken as intermediate values between low and high variants. Legal accessibility map was created using protected areas. Map of Physical accessibility (transport time - return trip loaded) was built ad-hoc based on 90m DTM and land cover data (friction) and detailed road and settlement data (target). Supply estimates were produced for 2016 and for 2021 based on estimated forest area changes and cumulative degradation rates for each scenario assumed.

Integration features

The supply/demand balance was estimated and mapped at pixel level and in a local context of 5 km. Commercial balance was mapped considering the resources economically viable. Balance estimates were produced for 2016 and for 2021.

Woodshed/bio-shed analysis

Woodshed analysis was based on weighted interpolation using Dinamica EGO, combining fuelwood demand from major deficit sites and friction parameters. The probable harvesting zones and degradation rates in 2016 and projected to 2021 were estimated/mapped for alternative scenarios based on various assumptions on transport time thresholds and use of land cover change by-products.

Integration with other aspects

Expected degradation rates due to unsustainable woodfuels harvesting were estimated and mapped for 2016 and 2021. Scenarios of degradation were estimated, based on different assumptions on the use of deforestation by-products. Promising remedial actions were reviewed integrating several lines of interventions aiming at reducing the demand and increasing the sustainable supply potential.


Demand: The total demand for fuelwood, charcoal, and small construction material was estimated to be 11.2 million metric tons (Mt) dry matter (DM) in 2016 and is projected to increase to 13.3 Mt DM by 2021. Most striking are the changes taking place in urban areas, where a rapid increase in charcoal demand of 10% annually is only partially compensated by a 5% annual reduction of fuelwood demand. Supply : According to the medium variant, over the five-year period, the national sustainable supply of physically and legally accessible wood is estimated to reduce from 9.85 to 9.45 Mt DM, resulting from the impact of deforestation and degradation on forest productivity. According to the medium variant (representing the most probable assumptions), the supply/demand balance in 2016 was positive by 0.8 Mt DM, representing a surplus of 9%, while in 2021 projections the balance will be negative by 1.1 Mt DM, representing a deficit of 11%. Unsustainable harvesting : The degradation rate due to unsustainable harvesting of woody biomass is estimated to be 1.7 Mt DM in 2016, increasing to 2.7 Mt DM in 2021 (medium scenario) showing an annual growth rate of 11%. Comparing this to the population growth rate (3.4%), it is therefore evident the level of unsustainable harvesting is a non-linear response. The degradation in 2021 is estimated to be determined in part by insufficient supply potential (1.1 Mt DM) and lack of management (1.6 Mt DM), whereby wood harvesting is heavily concentrated in certain areas leaving others untapped, rather than applying rational rotation systems.


Drigo R. 2019. Woodfuel Integrated Supply/Demand Overview Mapping (WISDOM) Malawi. Analysis of woodfuel demand, supply, and harvesting sustainability. Publication produced by Winrock International, for Tetra Tech, through USAID Contract number AID-612-TO-14-00003, Protecting Ecosystems and Restoring Forests in Malawi (PERFORM)