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How Much Wood Would a Peasant Plant? Public Choice Analysis of Institutional Constraints on Firewood Production Strategies in the West African Sahel

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Type: Working Paper
Author: Thomson, James T.
Date: 1980
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/4421
Sector: Forestry
Region: Africa
Subject(s): Workshop
public choice
forest management
institutional analysis
land tenure and use
Abstract: Introduction: "This essay presents a public choice policy analysis of firewood production possibilities in the West African Sahel, the arid southern fringe of the Sahara Desert. "Demand for firewood has outstripped supply in much of the contemporary Sahel. Arid areas and urban hinterlands now face the worst pinch, but population growth will soon create scarcities in many regions where supplies remain temporarily adequate. Since firewood will almost certainly continue to be the staple cooking and heating fuel of most Sahelien families, sustained severe shortages will sharply reduce many Saheliens living standards. "The pertinent problem thus becomes identification in particular settings of best strategies to prevent serious firewood shortages. Using standard public choice assumptions about human nature, this analysis highlights technical, legal, political and economic impediments to reforestation and then suggests several strategies to reduce or overcome them. Drawbacks as well as advantages of individualist, collective, and mixed approached to Woodstock management are considered. "Arguments and analysis are presented in the following sequence: (1) assumptions and an outline of seven problems to be considered; (2) a partially fictionalized account of one individuals frustrating attempt at fuelwood production, which illustrates some of these problems in a Sahelien local context; (3) consideration in detail of each problem; (4) conclusion."

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