Images of firewood from around the world have many stories to tell. From tiny sticks collected in Uganda to the huge tree trunks for outdoor boilers in America, it is a story of shortage and plenty. It is also a story of mechanization, gender roles and even of survival itself. As our planet faces a changing climate from using too much fossil fuel, in some countries using more firewood is a solution, and in other countries, using less is critical.
Nearly 3 out of 7.2 billion people on our planet use wood mainly to cook their food on open fires or traditional cook stoves. But solutions in the developed world and the developing world focus more on getting cleaner and more efficient appliances into use, not on trying to get families to switch from wood to a fossil fuel or another renewable. Sustainability is not just about forest capacity, but also the capacity of local people in any country to adopt alternatives or use the resource better. Ultimately, the story of firewood is also about public health, climate change, land use policy and cultural traditions.