Saving Trees – One Stove at a Time

For most people, Arbor week has always been about planting trees: it is something very visible, tangible and allows one to leave a legacy that will more than likely last several generations. However, when planting, we also need to think about saving trees. Most forests in the world are concentrated in the developing world. This situation is quickly changing as agriculture and especially cooking is driving deforestation in some of the world’s poorest countries. South Africa is no exception, where rising electricity and fossil-fuel prices are driving increasing numbers of people (more than 2 million households already) to use wood and charcoal to meet their daily energy needs. Worldwide, more than 3 billion people (half of the world’s population) rely on wood, charcoal or dung to cook their meals, heat their houses and boil water.

Not only does the use of open fires constitute a serious health risk (Indoor Air Pollution kills one person every 20 seconds) and contribute significantly to climate change, but it is also one of the key drivers behind deforestation. Open fires are notoriously inefficient, with the vast majority of energy being lost, forcing households to use much more wood or charcoal than necessary.

Arbor week is therefore not only a time to plant trees, but also to save them: a simple yet effective way of doing this is through using highly-efficient rocket stoves. These stoves use at least 50% less wood and emit up to 70% less smoke and greenhouse gasses. They also keep their heat for hours, serving a dual purpose as both stove and heater. The stoves are developed by the Aprovecho Research Centre in the USA, specifically for low-income households who frequently use wood or charcoal. They consist of a sheet metal outer cover, cast-iron stovetop and (most importantly) aerated ceramic clay inner. About 100 000 of these stoves are in use in India and China and they last at least 2 years if used daily.

For more information on the StoveTec rocket stoves, please contact Restio Energy on (021) 850 0771 or The stoves are retailing for between R300 and R400 (depending on the model) and wholesale prices are also available for those interested retailing the stoves in their area.