Fuel wood remains the main energy source for the majority of the people in Gechi District of South Western Ethiopia. As compared to the situation in the past, the forest cover is now generally very sparse in the densely populated areas where rapid rates of deforestation and forest degradation have occurred due to the heavy demand on forest products, mainly fuel wood. Therefore, this study was conducted with the objective of assessing the impact of fuel wood consumption on the forest resources in Gechi district. The vegetation sampling was conducted in the Chara forest to determine the average volumes of the standing trees per hectare on systematically laid plots along transects. In each plot, data were collected on tree species, plant height, diameter at breast height (DBH) and volume of standing trees per hectare was determined and compared with the household fuel wood consumption. The study revealed that 6529.90 tons of fuel wood had been utilized in Chara, while the standing forest was 10593.75 tons on 125 ha of land implying that 1.76 ha of forest resources was consumed per annum for fuel wood by the community members. The most preferred and extracted tree species from the forest resources of the area for fuel wood were Syzygium guineense, Maesa lanceolate and Albizia gummifera. In order to address the forest resource degradation of the area due to fuel wood utilization as energy sources, the use of efficient energy saving technologies, planting fast growing tree species for use as fuel wood are recommended.
Key words: Deforestation, energy, fuel wood, forest.
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