Coppiced Nitrogen-Fixing Firewood Species of the World
This article is an excerpt from my forthcoming book Carbon Farming: A Global Toolkit for Stabilizing the Climate with Tree Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices, and is part of a series promoting my kickstarter campaign to raise funds with which to complete the book.
Coppiced firewood species trial at ECHO
These firewood species grow rapidly, fix nitrogen, and re-sprout (coppice) quickly after cutting. All have high-quality firewood. They are thus a productive, self-fertilizing and perennial firewood source. Intensive blocks of these species can produce a tropical family’s cooking fuel needs on 0.15ha (0.37 acres; according to interviews with staff at both Las Cañadas and ECHO). Use of rocket stoves and other conservation technologies can reduce the area even further.
Coppicing woody plants sequester carbon in their roots, and in soil organic matter. When compared with pine plantations and other destructively-harvested wood sources they are more climate-friendly. They also have much higher fuel production per acre than natural forest, and can substantially lighten the firewood harvest load on natural forest around them.
This is just a sampling of the great diversity of candidate species. Like many nitrogen fixers, many of these are weedy outside of their native range. In addition there are a great, great number of coppicing firewood species that do not fix nitrogen which could be intercropped with these or similar species. Always start by investigating your native species first.
Acacia angustissima contour coppice firewood planting at Las Canadas.
Albizia lebbek is suited to semi-arid to humid tropics and subtropics.
Alnus acuminata on contour at Las Canadas.
Alnus glutinosa, very cold-hardy.
Coppiced pea shrub, Caragana arborescens at CRMPI in Colorado USA.
New planting of coppiced Gliricidia sepium for firewood,
El Matasano Guatemala.
Robinia neomexicana at Woodbine Ecology Center, Colorado USA.