Every community in Laojunshan National Nature Reserve burn firewood in their everyday life – it’s a basic need for every family in the community and is particularly used for cooking their food.
But the traditional method is a large open fire in the middle of the main room of the house and, a large amount of wood is used fuel the fire.
Unfortunately, in the Sichuan area of China, habitat destruction is one of the biggest threats to native wildlife and although the amount of wood taken by each family is relatively small, if each family in a community has to take wood from the nature reserve it adds up to a huge amount.
A big part of our work in China has been to work with local communities to find more sustainable solutions to protect the local habitat.
One of the ways we do this is through biogas stoves. Instead of using wood, biogas stoves run on the methane gas produced from the dung of domestic livestock like pigs. Most families living around Laojunshan Reserve have two or three pigs.
If the dung from these is channelled into a sealed pit beneath the pig sty it breaks down, producing methane gas as a bi-product. This can be piped into the house at a controlled pressure and used to fuel stoves for cooking.
In fact, we found that each biogas stoves leads to the householders using 80-90% LESS firewood during the course of a year. That’s a huge saving on the amount of trees cut down in the reserves - and also a huge saving on peoples time taken to collect the wood.
In return for the new stoves, local villagers are using some of the time that has been freed up to help the nature reserve staff with patrols to prevent poaching and disturbance.
A total of 12 stoves have been installed by the project so far – with a further 6 due this year. Who would’ve thought that a new stove could help to save China’s endemic wildlife?
For more on our great conservation work visit www.actforwildlife.org.uk.