6 Effects of Burning Wood on the Environment

In this article, we would like to take a look at the effects of burning wood on the environment and by the end of this article, you would be the one to answer if burning wood is rotten for the environment.

When we talk about burning of wood or many would liken it to bush burning, this is different. Bush burning happens only in the external environment and contributes largely to global warming and climate change reason being that greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide are produced as the bushes are burned.

Also, bush burning lays the land in waste for a considerable amount of time as useful nutrients are destroyed in the soil and it would take time for these nutrients to be developed again.

When we talk about the burning of wood, it can happen when bushes are burned but, mainly happens when there are wildfires, when the wood is used for cooking or heating the home.

Depending on the application of wood burning, the result of burning wood can be as disastrous as bush burning.

Many argue that burning of wood is carbon neutral since trees die naturally releasing carbon dioxide and methane through oxidation.

While this is true, it is also good to note that what burning of wood does is releases more carbon and other harmful particulates to the environment since the burning of wood takes a short time and leaves ashes as leftovers which is also dangerous.

Effects of Burning Wood on the Environment

  • Air Pollution
  • Acid Rain Formation
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Climate Change and Global Warming
  • Biodiversity Loss
  • Plant Health

1. Air Pollution

Depending on where and how the wood is burned, burning wood comes with a risk of air pollution both indoors and surrounding environment. When wood is burnt, dangerous gases are released in the form of smoke and these gases are very harmful to both humans and the environment.

One might think having a fireplace in your home isn’t a big deal but I tell you that both fireplaces and wood stoves are very good sources of indoor air pollution especially in winter period accounting for approximately 30% of article pollution during these periods which can be bad for the health of the general public, especially children, the elderly people and people with lung or other breathing problems.

It would be good to note that wood burning releases more particle pollution than oil and gas.

The pollution (smoke) from wood burning can cause haze which is associated with low visibility in the area. It can also affect the scenery of parks which could cause aesthetic damage.

2. Acid Rain Formation

In addition to air pollution, wood burning releases dangerous gases that can react with water vapor in the atmosphere to form acid rain. Dangerous gases like nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix to form ground-level ozone which mixes with water vapor to form acid rain.

The dangers of acid rain can be seen in both plants and animals even non-living things causing de-coloration of material coatings and can destroy crops and farmlands alike.

3. Bioaccumulation

When wood-burning happens, ashes are produced and these ashes are disposed of in various locations. Some are in the soil, while some are disposed of in the water bodies or even the shores.

While the ashes might be of beneficial use to some crops in the soil, they can be harmful to us indirectly as dioxins produced by wood burning find their way from the soil, shores or the oceans and other water bodies to accumulate in fishes and livestock and then affect humans and other higher organisms are they are ingested.

4. Climate Change and Global Warming

You guessed it right, climate change and global warming are certainly one of the effects of burning wood. But, why is that? Well, this happens because of some obvious reasons. For starters, when we talk about wood, we are talking about trees and forests.

This wood is burnt for various reasons both personal and social are gotten from the felling of trees and in large quantities leading to deforestation and laying the land bare which would eventually lead to global warming and climate change because though these trees can be replaced, it would take time even to decades for this tree to reach maturity without being destroyed by global warming which was caused when they were taken down.

Another obvious way burning wood leads to climate change and global warming is the release of large quantities of greenhouse gases. Though we have said this before, it is still necessary to add it here because the release of greenhouse gases consequently leads to global warming and climate change.

5. Biodiversity Loss

Where does the wood come from? Though I have said this before, I still find it necessary to reiterate that wood comes from trees that form the forest and the forest is the habitat of a vast variety of wildlife when these trees are cut down for wood production to meet the demand for wood which would be eventually burned.

Wildlife is adversely affected. This beautiful aspect of nature is made to look for greener pastures which affect them as some of them die off because they were not able to adapt to a different condition or environment.

Also, the imbalance in carbon dioxide because of the ones released due to wood burning can cause the death or even extinction of delicate species.

6. Plant Health

Before concluding your mind, let me bring to your mind what you mind be see every day but have overlooked. The idea is that burning wood especially when done outside, close to plants or trees, and not in a controlled manner can affect the health of the plant.

The hotness and dangerous gases produced when the wood is burnt can even kill the plant or cause some growth deficiencies like stunted growth or even hinder the development of fruits or seeds.

Is Burning Wood Bad for the Environment?

So, is burning wood bad for the environment? I guess that from what you have read about the effect of burning wood on the environment.

You would be the one to come up with your answer. Don’t worry, you are entitled to your opinion but, I would let you know that wood burning has been regarded as a renewable energy by many countries even in Europe.

It is no doubt that wood burning can be done in a sustainable manner even oil and gas can be used sustainably but, for the greater good, I would advise against burning wood not just because of climate change and global warming but also because of various factors like air pollution and deforestation.

Also, as you make your decision, remember that the efficient way of burning wood has not been implemented in many homes or environments so the downside is still in play and the more wood is burned, the environment suffers.


If we want to save our planet, let it be clear to us that burning wood is harmful. Even as we source for innovation to reduce wood combustion, let us bring up and support afforestation and reforestation projects in both our immediate community and all over the globe to the best of our capacity as we also protect existing forests.


A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.

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