Project Details Chemical issues in biomass burning in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project No.: 
Start Date: 
22 October 2007
End Date: 


– To stimulate interactions, collaborations and networking on an issue that is of continental interest in Sub-Saharan Africa and that has environmental impact (including climate-related impact).
– To highlight the role of chemistry in environment-related issues.
– To serve as prototype for other projects/books focusing on issues of interest on a regional/continental scale.


Biomass burning is practiced extensively in many areas in Sub-Saharan Africa, producing gas and aerosol emissions, including greenhouse ones. The problem has been the object of studies from various points of view (environmental monitoring, impact on climate change, atmospheric chemistry, etc.).

The current proposal is motivated by the consideration that any attempt to addressing the problem needs to take into account an ensemble of aspects, most of them common to many countries, and needs to rely on appropriate dissemination of information, as a necessary condition for consent from the communities concerned.

The project envisages the preparation of a book with contributions from different (as many as possible) countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, along a pattern analogous to the series Green Chemistry in Africa, Green Chemistry in Latin America, etc., already endorsed by the Subcommittee on Green Chemistry. Contributions are expected to consider the chemical aspects of all the issues associated with biomass burning, from the impacts (on the environment, on crop production, etc.) to the possible addressing options (alternative utilizations of biomass).

The project is apt to underline the role of chemistry as the central science for the investigation and addressing of environmental problems and the significance of the interfaces between chemistry and the other investigation- areas involved. It can therefore also contribute to enhance the perception of the role of chemistry in investigating/addressing issues of general interest.

It is also envisaged that the project can be serve as a prototype for a series of books focusing on problems that are relevant for a continent or a subcontinent and that can be investigated, discussed and addressed from the point of view of Green Chemistry. The project also responds to the recommendations of a special focus on Africa (e.g., by ICSU).


project announcement published in Chem. Int. 30(2) 2008

* Updated Plan and Call for Contribution – deadline 15 Feb  2011

March 2020 update – Released in February 2020, the book (ISBN 978-94-007-0807-5) offers a comprehensive overview of the various aspects involved in biomass burning, highlighting the complexity of the phenomenon and the ensuing challenges for the design of approaches aimed at reducing fires in the open air.

Chemical issues are discussed in the first 7 chapters, providing the core of the scientific and technical information. In the then following chapters, experts in the human sciences provide information on people’s attitudes and perceptions. Both types of expertise are needed in the design of interventions that can motivate people and communities to opt for sustainable practices.

In closing, the book underscores the importance of pursuing an interdisciplinary approach in order to tackle the problem effectively. It offers a valuable resource for undergraduates, graduates, and policymakers working in the fields of chemistry, environmental science, science education and sustainability.

Review book content on the publisher website at

Publication announced in Chem Int July 2020, p. 31

Last update 16 July 2020