3 years ago

Ecosystem services trade-offs from high fuelwood use for traditional shea butter processing in semi-arid Ghana

Traditional production of shea (Vitellaria paradoxa) butter uses large amounts of fuelwood. This study examines the effects of shea production on the environment by identifying the ecosystem service trade-offs due to the high fuelwood consumption. Fuelwood species inventories for different land use types and on-site plot-based standing biomass measured. We estimate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and changes in carbon stocks for different shea products in rural and urban settings. Results suggest that, processing of shea can cause a significant change of carbon stocks in the four study villages and result in the loss of carbon sequestration ecosystem services. For GHG emissions, rural shea butter processors emit 3.14–3.31kgCO2 eq/kg shea butter, while urban processors emit slightly less (2.29–2.54kg CO2 eq/kg shea butter). We identify trade-offs with several other provisioning (woodland products), regulating (erosion control) and cultural ecosystem services (religious and spiritual values). Such findings can initiate discussions about the hidden environmental and socioeconomic costs of current shea production practices. Potential strategies to enhance the sustainability of shea production include the adoption of improved stoves, sustainable fuelwood harvesting practices, parkland management, alternative fuels, and product pricing premiums to fund the adoption of cleaner shea processing technologies.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S2212041617305855

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