As rising gas prices drive demand for the polluting fuel, illegal loggers depend on the trade to live – even as the forest disappears around them
Large swathes of Ruhoi forest reserve in eastern Tanzania now lay bare, the ground in some sections dry and scorched, covered with stumps and brittle and fallen trees. The forest is being cut down at an alarming rate to meet the growing demand for charcoal in the nearby city of Dar es Salaam.
As a result of high gas prices, about 90% of Tanzanian households now use charcoal or firewood to cook, which is fuelling rapid deforestation across the country.
Between 2015 and 2020, the country lost almost 470,000 hectares (1.16m acres) of forest a year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. The situation mirrors what is happening across much of Africa, where wood collection and charcoal production account for nearly half of the continent’s forest degradation.
Let them burn coal. Or go fracking for gas.
Or even we might try understanding the cause of environmental degradation – [poverty. It ain’t capitalism that does it. It’s poor peasants clearing the land for a year or two of runty maize. Or, as here, charcoal to cook the maize. The solution, of course, is more capitalism, more free markets, so that they’re rich enough to afford the gas produced by fracking.