This research offers new insights in social and environmental outcomes of woodfuel for urban markets in the Congo Basin. In the absence of alternative energy sources in expanding cities, the charcoal trade has developed into an important market with great interests for the many actors involved.
Charcoal revenues of producers in the supply zone of Kinshasa contribute 75% of their entire household income. These revenues are used for daily needs and investments in alternative income generating activities, but remain insufficient to lift households out of poverty. Formal institutions related to woodfuel do exist, but in practice the trade is mostly arranged via informal contacts. This leads to corruption and lack of sustainable production. The current production of woodfuel for Kinshasa, mostly combined with clearing forests for agriculture land, causes overexploitation. This is a driver of deforestation and degradation in the second largest forest reserve in the world after the Amazon.