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Land rehabilitation through reforestation – the power of property rights in the green wood energy value chain

Published: 30 August 2018
Last edited: 26 March 2019
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Meeting the rising wood energy demand is a challenge and driver for deforestation and forest degradation. Forest landscape restoration (FLR) & AFR100 committments also address the sustainable production of wood energy to meet social and economic realities.  


This solution applies a holistic view of the wood energy value chain by addressing all stakeholders in an adapted manner. Smallholder afforestation is at the heart of the solution. It combines legal, governance, economic and technical elements from land title transfers and individual afforestation schemes on degraded land at village level, to fuelwood harvesting, energy efficient charcoal processing, conversion, distribution and marketing, all the way to end-consumers & related combustion technology (improved cookstoves).


It modernizes the wood energy value chain & generates benefits for forest stewards, producers of improved stoves and end consumers alike. Their annual income has doubled on an average.


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Forest ecosystems
Grassland ecosystems
Tropical evergreen forest
Tropical grassland, savanna, shrubland
Erosion prevention
Forest Management
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Renewable energies
Sustainable livelihoods
Climate Challenges (Hazards)
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
Aichi targets
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Other targets
This solution directly contributes to the national pledge under AFR100 - the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative with the aim to restore 100 million ha of land in Africa 2030.


Antsiranana I, Diana Region, Madagascar | Antsiranana, Diana region in northern Madagascar


  • Deforestation and erosion have degraded many fertile soils during the last two decades. Heavy erosion and frequent floods destroy paddy fields affecting food security.
  • Farmers increasingly turn to charcoal production to make a living. Forests and savannahs are often illegally used, as a freely accessible resource. Charcoal production is an attractive source of income as 85% of all households depend on it for cooking. Demand will rise dramatically in the coming decades.
  • Charcoalers react by intensified logging, further proceeding into fragile ecosystems like mangroves and dry forests. Inefficient traditional kilns & cooking stoves add to the excessive amounts consumed (Diana: 1,000,000 m3/a), much beyond the natural regenerative capacity.
  • The resulting deforestation and degradation affects water resources, increases vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change.


  • 4,200 individuals from ~70 villages (reforestation)  
  • 275 charcoal producers (members of local trade cooperatives)
  • 12,500 households (~42,000 people) use improved cookstoves
  • 40,500 people have access to better wood energy

How do the building blocks interact?

The allocation of clear land tenure rights to communities (BB1) provides the basis for the Village–based individual reforestation schemes (BB2). The combination of sustainably managed fuel wood plantations with the introduction of optimized kiln technology (BB3) allows to set up the marketing of green labelled charcoal product (BB4). The optimization of combustion technologies (BB5) via improved cook stoves allows to reduce pressure on forest resources (BB2) and costs for charcoal purchase (BB4). Creating conducive policies and laws (BB6) is a parallel process that strengthen the current green charcoal value chain and promotes further scaling up in the future.


Social & economic:

  • 40,500 people in Antsiranana (~every 3rd citizen) have access to sustainable household energy; they benefit from reliable supply, lower fire & health hazards (less indoor air pollution)
  • 12,500 households (~45,2000 people) use improved cook stoves; they save ~1,600 t of charcoal p.a., worth a total of EUR 187,500 or EUR 15 per household (= 25% less expenditure)
  • The economic situation of landless poor & women was strengthened due to increased forest ownership  
  • Regional development was strengthened by innovative community organization & empowerment



  • 4,200 households afforested 9,000 ha of wasteland around 68 villages and soil fertility and water retention has been improved
  • Sustainable woodfuel production on 9,000 ha already offsets unregulated exploitation of more than 90,000 ha of natural forests, in and around protected areas
  • About 1,000 ha of forest area are sustainably used per year. A total of 4,700 t of green charcoal can be produced


    Scaling up:

  • The approach is currently scaled up in other regions of Madagascar on 15,000 ha; Cameroon and Ghana have initiated a replication



Doudou - the green business man: Without charcoal, most stoves of Malagasy kitchens would remain cold; especially city dwellers depend on it. ~85% of households cook with charcoal. It is unlikely that things will change in the near future. Only 14% of households are connected to the electrical grid and only a minority can afford to buy gas.


A large number of people in the countryside round off their meager income by making charcoal. They get it illegally from the nearby forest with negative consequence to the environment. It hardly rains and the environment suffers a lot, gusts of wind can trigger bushfires. During periods of rain, soil is washed from the slopes into the rice fields. All of this is seriously damaging our future.


Abdou Mockbel  – or Doudou as his friends call him - also produced wood illegally before. In 1996, he heard about the green mad kiln technology for the first time. He and his wife Odette were taking part since the beginning.


4200 households have participated since its launch. They mainly plant eucalyptus trees on a surface of 9000 ha. They decide on which plot the trees should be planted; soils already degraded can be used again and can be protected against erosion damage. They first produced seedlings together and then transplanted them.


The Program facilitated a rapid and easier administrative process of land titles granting at affordable prices. Abdou and his wife had it after only 2 months. Abdou now produces his charcoal from a modern oven. It can produce twice more coal than a traditional oven and almost four times faster.


Thus with the help of GIZ, Abdou created with other plot owners a cooperative with their own point of sale. Each month, they now sell up to 1000 bags of sustainably produced charcoal.

Contributed by

Richard Knodt

Other contributors

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Tatienne Be (resource person)
Directorate of Rural Development of the DIANA Region
Herizo Rakotovololonalimanana (resource person)
Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and Forests (MEEF)
Allan Hong Wa (technical advisor, resource person)
ECO Consult
Augustin Randrianarivony (resource person)
Directorate of Alternative Energies (Ministry of Energy)
Mbolatiana Ranjevasoa (resource person)
Directorate for the Integration of the Environmental Dimension (Ministry of Energy)
Ndriana Razafinjatovo (resource person)
Directorate of Forest Resources Valorisation (Ministry of Forests)
Théogene Belahy (resource person)
Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Environment, Ecology and Forests (CEEF)
Harifidy Rakoto Ratsimba (resource person)
Applied Research Laboratory of the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Agronomiques
Jean Pierre Bouillet (resource person)
CIRAD Madagascar
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)