Factors influencing use of fuelwood and its environmental impacts in Tapanuli Utara regency, North Sumatra
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Deforestation and forest degradation, after burning of fossil fuels, is considered as the second leading cause of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions (accounting for over 17% of global carbon dioxide emissions) and has become an important issue concerning climate change mitigation. The provision of wood energy is generally thought to be a major contributor to forest loss. In Indonesia, more than half of the rainforest there, the third - largest swath in the world, has been felled in just a few years. Further more, permission has been granted to convert the majority of what remains into palm or acacia plantations. The logging and burning of forests to clear land for cultivation has made Indonesia one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases. Therefore, the o bjective of this study was to assess the current level and influencing factors of the use of fuelwood among the rural population as well as the consequent environmental impacts in the target area in North Sumatra. The questionnaire survey using randomly se lected households (n = 196) was administered in Tapanuli Utara regency from July to August 2014; followed by several field visits from August to September 2016. Obtained data were analysed with descriptive statistics and cross tabulation. The results indic ate that fuelwood is a significant source of energy in the target area. For 31% of respondents it is the major energy source and for 64% it is a supplementary source. The high rate of use of wood as fuel corresponds to the poor financial situation of respo ndents and the easy accessibility of wood, but only from the surrounding area (own garden or adjacent land). Wood resources are often very distant (on average over 1,000 metres) as a consequence of high deforestation. This study reveals that there is a non - sustainable trend of forest conversion resulting in high land degradation in Tapanuli Utara regency.