FUEL WOOD PRODUCTION

FUELWOOD PRODUCTION MODELS AND DIFFERENT FUEL WOOD SPECIES

BEST GROWING APPROACHES & PRACTICES OF SRI LANKA

COMMONLY GROWN FUEL WOOD SPECIES

Sri Lanka is mainly based on agricultural and plantation economy by major rural population with tree planting culture. Farmers used to cultivate fuel wood species in their homestead and farms with or without a proper use to him. Fuelwood species have been planted for many other services instead of the purpose of fuel wood production. After recognizing the potential of such species and rising demand promoted with farmer, as fuelwood models.

LONG ROTATIONAL SPECIES (LRS)

Fuelwood growing models can be basically divided into two groups based on rotational length. Species having more than one year rotational length can be considered as Long Rotational Species (LRS). Fuelwood species grown for fuelwood production purpose in tea plantations are entirely exotic trees with 7 to 10 year rotation with the objective of fuelwood production. Same species also keep long years for the maturity to harvest as timber production objectives.

SHORT ROTATION COPPICING SPECIES (SRCS)

SRCs are grown in every agro-climatic region in Sri Lanka under different managements in plantations and agricultural systems. Services provided by such species in different systems are necessary for the success of such systems. Wider adaptability is major character of such species and result Distribution of such species is wider than LRS and recognition depend on the species and place of distribution and service provided in specific model. Plantations, homestead, farmer fields and naturally grown in road/stream sides are commonly seen in such species. Primary objective of planting such species in most of such places are not for fuel wood production and there are different services expected such as shade, green matter, support, fencing and many more. Recent developments in environmental concerns and sustainability measures and increased demand in fuel wood for industrial utilization make fuel wood from srcs in demand.
SUSTAINABLY GROWN FUEL WOOD SPECIES IN SRI LANKA

FUEL WOOD

More than 450 000 plant species have been identified worldwide approximately 3000 of these are used by human as source of fuel wood, tools and other feed stocks. About 300 plants plant species have been domesticated as crops for agriculture, of these, 60 species are major importance.

Any wood used as a fuel is called as fuelwood. Fuelwood may be in different form such as firewood, charcoal, chips, sheets, pellets, and sawdust End product characteristics of fuel wood such as specific gravity, calorific value and ash content are the key factors of the demand equation of fuel wood in the market. Some processing operations are taken place to manipulate properties of fuel wood for value addition and end product optimizing to suit in industry utilization.

SELECTION CRITERIA OF A FUELWOOD SPECIES

There are specific characters those create species more attractive to use as a fuel wood species. Selection of species is based on the species potential as compared to other species, its performances at a tested site and for the kinds of quality of desired benefits produced. Only those species which are capable of meeting the desired production and other goals should be selected.

 

SOME IMPORTANT CHARACTERS OF A FUEL WOOD SPECIES

GROWTH RATE

Growth refers vertical growth and increase of girth or diameter against time, results increased weight and/or volume. Fast growing species are the most suitable species for fuel wood production. Such species produce increased volume /weight of biomass within shorter period of time compared with other species under same environmental condition.

WIDER ADAPTATION

Wider adaptation refers species is distributed over wide range of soil and climatic conditions. Sri Lanka is an island has changing ecology resulted with 46 agro ecological regions. Widely adapted species are mostly preferable for fuel wood production in Sri Lanka.

NITROGEN FIXING ABILITY

It refers ability of a tree to fix atmospheric nitrogen. Nitrogen fixing ability is important aspect of selection criteria of a fuelwood species as Nitrogen is major limiting factor of tropical soil. Availability of nitrogen in particular soil heavily influence the growth rate of selected species hence nitrogen fixing trees have greater potential over other species in mass production.

EASE OF ESTABLISH

This refers the regeneration ability of a species with multiple sources such as seeds by direct sawing and vegetative propagated by cuttings. There may be some other methods of propagation other than these two methods. Those regeneration methods need to be less complicated and easy, which is not demand complicated nursery methods.

PERIOD OF ROTATION

Refers time required for maturity of fuel wood for harvesting. Shorter rotation is preferred in fuel wood plantations. Some instances shorter rotation species gives fuel wood distributed over time with greater volume/weight than other species.

FREE OF PEST AND DISEASE PROBLEMS

This refers tolerance of species for pest and disease condition in the growing environment. Species selected with high resistance to pest and disease conditions are preferable as fuelwood species.

FUELWOOD SPECIES GROWN IN DEDICATED PLANTATIONS

Some exotic fuelwood species have been planted in blocks for the purpose of fuelwood production in plantation industry to serve the fuelwood demand exist within the industry. Especially tea industry required fuelwood for tea processing and acres of fuelwood plantations have been established in tea plantations.
There were many species introduced to Sri Lanka in the 18th century by planters from Australia for the purpose of fuelwood production. Most of such species omitted from the common use and few species are presently use as block fuelwood plantations specially Regional Plantation Companies (RPCs). Some other species from imported exotics also available but not commonly used and there are trees scattered in home gardens and plantations. Following six species are still planted as fuelwood plantations in Sri Lanka. All species discuss below in block fuelwood plantations are in the same specification in planting and management styles also mostly similar.

ACACIA MANGIUM

This is most common fuelwood species planted in RPCs other than eucalyptus for fuelwood production purpose. This species more thrive in low country wet zone with good biomass yield and also available upcountry intermediate zone. Only drawback observed in this species is more prone to wind breaks and not suitable for planting in high wind areas. In block fuelwood plantations planting specification is 2.5 x 2.5 m results 1600 trees per hectare.

ACASIA AURICULIFORMIS

This species is mostly planted in dry and intermediate parts of the country by forest department of Sri Lanka. This tree merits large scale testing as a fuelwood species. It has the capacity to produce good fuelwood on poor soils, even in areas with extended dry seasons. Planting specification is same as above species.

Eucalyptus grandis, E. camaldulensis and E. torelliana

HEVEA BRASILIENSIS (RUBBER TREE)

Rubber Cultivation is mainly for latex production though other benefit such as timber and carbon stored in the biomass are also of economic importance. Rubber fuelwood is very famous among household and rural industries.

Number of rubber trees per ha is 550 under the spacing of 4 m x 4.5 m. As per the calculation average removal rate of rubber is 3000 ha/annum and average accumulated biomass per hectare at removal after economic age is 300 Mt/ha. Hence the average biomass availability from rubber industry is 900,000 Mt/year. From the available biomass 20% of average weight utilized as timber and balance 80% is used as fuel wood. This estimates around 720,000 Mt per annum.

SHORT ROTATIONAL COPPICING SPECIES (SRCS)

Other than fuelwood species mentioned above there are species extensively used in plantations and different agroforestry systems. Mainly following SRCs are common in Sri Lanka planted mainly not for fuelwood production purpose but for other services.

1. Gliricidia sepium

This tree is commonly known as many names such as Ginisiria, Ladappa, Wetama, Albisia and Nanchi Gliricidia is adapted to wide-ranging agro-climatic and soil conditions and could be cultivated all over Sri Lanka except in coastal areas, on mountain tops and in arid areas. Gliricidia sepium was found to be the most significant species which offer series of other complementary benefits as far as soil and environmental aspects are concerned. Glicidia sepium is historically grown as a boundary fence tree which does not require any special agronomic practices, care of pest control measures due to sum inherited genetic characteristics typical of it. It is a drought tolerant tree crop which has the capacity of absorbing nitrogen from the atmosphere with the least intake of soil nutrients while fixing nitrogen in to the soil. Gliricidia commonly grown as low shade in tea, support tree in pepper, vanilla and betel, fences, alleys with seasonal crops, SALTs and intercrop with Coconut.

2.  Leucaena leucocephala

Main attributes of all tropical legumes, leucaena probably the widest assortment of uses. Through its many varieties, Leucaena can produce nutrias forage, firewood, timber and organic rich fertilizer. It’s divers use include re vegetating tropical hill slopes and providing windbreaks, firebreaks, shade, and ornamentation. Individual Leucaena tree have yielded extraordinary amounts of wood indeed among the highest annual total yield ever recorded (Firewood crops, National academy of sciences, 1980).

3.  Caliandra calothyrsus

Caliandra is a good shade tree that uses as low shade in tea plantations, successfully uses in upcountry tea plantations where Gliricidia is not much success. Calliandra calothrysus is recommended for elevations upto 1500m. It, however, thrives well in elevation between 300-1300m.

OTHER TREE RESOURCES THOSE CAN BE CONSIDERED AS FUELWOOD SOURCES

Species with the potential for fuelwood production is available under different agro ecological regains in Sri Lanka. Fuelwood production potential and other characters were poorly recognized of those species. Many of candidate species abundant in different agro ecological regions and grow wild where poorly maintained home gardens, reservations and Chena lands.
Some species are invasive creating ecological imbalance when it allows growing freely. Planned extraction of such invasive species creates economic benefits while removing threats to local species diversity. It is necessary to have comprehensive assessment of such species for maximum utilization of their potential.
There are limitations in extraction and transportation of fuelwood species listed in the table under different regulations imposed by the government through different department. It is necessary to be identifying all such barriers to relax such regulations on species specific to maximum utilization of them.

SHORT ROTATIONAL COPPICING SPECIES (SRCs)

Other than fuelwood species mentioned above there are species extensively used in plantations and different agroforestry systems. Mainly following SRCs are common in Sri Lanka planted mainly not for fuelwood production purpose but for other services.

SPECIES FOUND IN HOME GARDENS, CHENA AND RESERVATIONS

SPECIES FOUND AS PLANTATIONS