Fuelwood is the cheapest fuel available per unit of heat in most developing countries. The annual use of fuelwood has been estimated at 1,200 million cubic metres worldwide (Arnold and Jongma 1978). Fuelwood can be harvested on demand and is easily stored and dried. It can be produced from most tree species and from a wide range of silvicultural systems. However, if fuelwood production is a primary management aim of tree planting, a variety of factors needs to be considered to optimise both the quantity and value of fuelwood produced. For example, a species with high volume production is of little fuelwood value if the wood is very light or if the burning wood produces toxic smoke.
In this section, some of the factors that determine the suitability of tree legumes for fuelwood will be discussed and some of the principles of plantation management and how these apply to fuelwood production will be considered.