September 13, 2016

Great news from Lubutu

Cool Earth’s partnership in Lubutu is working with communities to protect 640,000 acres of forest bordering the Maiko National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

This summer, we’ve been working with a number of families to test the feasibility of a community-wide programme of installing energy efficient stoves throughout the villages. This will dramatically reduce the amount of fuelwood collected, which has a big impact on the forest. It will also make a big difference to the health of women and children, as the smoke from traditional stoves is dangerous.

So far, the training on constructing and using energy efficient stoves has exceeded expectations. 84 families have been trained to build the stoves and are using them on a regular basis. In total, 193 community members have attended awareness raising workshops including 165 women and 28 men. Early reports suggest a 50% drop in the use of fuel wood has occurred amongst the families involved. That’s great news for the forest and the families protecting it.


A further 225 families will receive stove training by the end of the year. The ultimate aim is that the women who have received training will make the stoves themselves and train other members of their communities in future. A bright idea that we hope will spread like wildfire.

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  • Diane Russell says:

    Somehow I don’t think improved cookstoves will halt the killing of gorillas. Likely not local villagers doing that–or at least they are not financing it. Everyone thinks that cookstoves are a solution to loss of biodiversity but in fact deforestation by women harvesting fuelwood is not a major threat. Industrial charcoal yes. Commercial bushmeat trade yes. Wildlife trafficking yes. Need secure tenure and rights for local people more than cookstoves.

    • Chloe Rickard says:

      Hi Diane,

      The use of traditional cookstoves, according to the World Health Organisation, is responsible for approximately 2 million premature deaths per year, particularly women and children, due to inhaling fine soot particles. These cookstoves cause indoor air pollution and health problems, and contribute to global warming. The demand for fuelwood in some areas exceeds the natural re-growth of the surrounding forest, causing deforestation and habitat loss.

      We are not saying that cookstoves are the ‘silver bullet’ solution for loss of biodiversity. However, by promoting clean fuel technology in rural communities, giving them a more efficient option, we can minimise the health problems and any unsustainable harvesting of fuelwood. This initiative, together with supporting alternative sustainable income generation and saving schemes, is helping improve the welfare of the community whilst reducing the impact on the forest.

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