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3.8 Country paper: Malawi


Reality and perspectives
Malawi Country Paper
Written by
Wellingtone Ansayile Nyondo
Forest Department
Viphya Plantations Division,
P O Chikangawa, Mzimba, Malawi
Tel. 343 222/219/215/201
Fax 343 208/ 333 624 (RaiPly)


Workshop on Tropical Secondary Forest Management in Africa:

Reality and perspectives
In collaboration with ICRAF and CIFOR
Nairobi, Kenya, 9-13 December 2002


Forestry is governed by the Forest Act of 1997, Chapter 63.01, which has responsibilities in carrying out Secondary forest activities on customary land, forest reserves, plantations and all other matters related to forest management. The National Forest Policy 1996 and Forest Act 1997 are administered by the Department of Forestry, which was established in 1942.

Secondary forest management is new in the minds of many Malawians. The diminishing primary forest leads to the formation of secondary forests, if the causes of degradation can be stopped or minimized. In some way secondary forest management is similar to the management of Miombo woodlands and management of pole/fuel wood plantations in Malawi. This paper discusses the similarity between secondary forest management and woodland management practiced in Malawi.

Secondary forests help many Malawians in poverty reduction, as it is easier to manage as compared to plantation forestry. They forests are managed for a number of reasons such as soil and water conservation, wildlife habitat, tourist attraction, non- forest products etc.

Secondary forest management can be promoted by involving the local communities in the training of secondary forest management practices. Destructive forest agents such as fires, grazing, encroachment, farming and timber harvesting should be administered in the manner which is friendly to secondary forests e.g. controlled burning.

The present challenge that Malawi would face in managing the secondary forests would be to acquire and develop the formal skills required for secondary forest management.

Secondary forest management is in line with the Government policy on poverty reduction. Local communities can apply it in managing their woodlands. It is a new concept which require great support in terms of research, training and funding in all institutions involved in environmental management such as the Forestry Department, Ministry of Agriculture, National Herbarium, National Parks and Wildlife, etc. Forest managers need to acquire a better understanding of the principles and underlying ecological processes of secondary forest management.


Malawi is a small country in southern Africa. Encroachment by the relatively dense population onto private land, gazetted forests, national parks and other protected areas contribute to land pressure and has become frequent and sometimes violent. Leasehold and freehold land are often deliberate targets of encroachment by land hungry small-scale operators. There is evidence of destruction of soil cover in catchment areas, erosion of agricultural soils, and destruction of indigenous forests in all tenure regimes. In the freehold estate areas, the notion that owners had absolute immunity against Government intervention in matters of land use was a major factor behind the destruction of indigenous forests and, in some cases illegal construction of dams.

The 1992/93 National Survey of Agriculture indicated that 78 per cent of households in the smallholder sub-sector owned or controlled less than 1 ha of land holding. Leasehold estates were particularly prone to abandonment and underutilization. Many holders obtained grants that were far in excess of what they were capable of developing. On the basis of estimates made in 1994, 2.6 million ha of suitable agricultural land remains uncultivated in the rural areas. This means that 28 per cent of the land is lying idle.

The Land Ordinance (Chapter 57:01) defines land as public, private or customary land

Secondary forests are forests `regenerating largely through natural processes after significant human and/or natural disturbances of the original forest vegetation at a single point in time or over an extended period, and displaying a major difference in forest structure and /or canopy species composition with nearby primary forest on similar sites". The concept of secondary forest management is new in Malawi. However, over years it has been practised on Customary Land, Forest Reserves, Wildlife Reserves, as fallow after shifting cultivation, bush burning, forest clearing and grazing. In this document the following categories of secondary forest are considered:

Secondary forest management in Malawi is being done in the context of miombo woodland management and is also related to the management of poles/fuel wood plantations. This is intended to support secondary forest management through the conventional practices of growing trees. This is a relatively economical technique in managing forest resources, as government funding is very restricted to undertake crucial forest activities, which are quite expensive as compared to the techniques of secondary forests management. The purpose and scope of this paper are to explore the extent of secondary forests in Malawi and the management practices currently being used.


Malawi is a small, land-locked country in southern Africa, lying between latitudes 9š to 18š south and longitudes 33š to 36š east (USAID, 1995). The land area occupies 118,324 kmē of which 98,000 kmē is land (the rest is the Malawi Lake). Agricultural estates occupy 12,000 kmē and the area potentially available for agriculture by small farmers is approximately 45,000 kmē after adjusting for wetlands, steep slopes and traditionally protected areas (Malawi National Land Policy, 17th January 2002). Customary land covers 59,000 kmē and the private sector owns 12,000 kmē (World Bank, 1995). Malawi is bordered by Zambia to the west, Tanzania to the north and west, and Mozambique to the east and south. The land-locked nature entails large transport costs for exports across the neighbouring countries to the nearest seaports. The implied high road transport costs prohibit Malawi to become fully integrated into the international exchange economy for the bulky commodities such as timber, charcoal and other forest products. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, which contributes about 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Economic Report, 1996).

The population was estimated at 9.8 million in 1998, has been growing at about 1.9 per cent per annum with an average population density of approximately 105 persons per kmē.

The climate is tropical warm, semi-arid to sub-humid. Rainfall occurs during a single season between November and April and generally increases with altitude, i.e. 800 - 1000 mm in the medium altitude plateaus and 1000 - 1500 mm in the high altitude plateaus.

The country has three distinct topographical areas:

a. The high altitude plateau from 1400 m to 2300 m above sea level (a.s.l.) with peak reaching 3000 m.

b. The medium altitude plateau between 800 - 1400 m a.s.l.

c. The rift valley plains from 50 - 800 m a.s.l. along the Lake and the Shire River.

In 1980 Malawi had a forest cover amounting to 26,428 kmē. Forests on Customary land covered 8,843 kmē. There are 21 Gazetted Forest Reserves with a total area of 9184.51 kmē, and 21 proposed Forest Reserves with a total area of 1377.26 kmē. Plantations cover 900.00 kmē within Forest Reserves of which 15.0 kmē are for poles and fuel wood. National Parks and Wildlife Reserves cover 9,770 kmē (Forest Resource Mapping and Biomass Assessment for Malawi, 1993).

Forests supply 90 per cent of the domestic and industrial requirements (USAID, 1995). The rural population collects a number of non-wood products, poles, timber, and other products. The forestry resources have the potential to reduce soil erosion, increase soil fertility, reduce flooding and siltation of rivers, and grazing, and to conserve the flora and fauna. There is a high pressure on forest resources resulting from encroachment, forest harvesting, and these have greatly contributed towards land degradation and loss of soil fertility (Abbot, 1996).

Malawi is predominantly an agricultural country. Land and its use lies at the centre of the country's economy, livelihood and aspirations of its people. Land availability varies from 0.024 to 1.451 ha. As a means of promoting agriculture development, the Government decided to pass a policy that would privatize customary land through the introduction of some form of lease and freehold tenure. The Customary Land Development Act and the Local Land Boards Act were enacted solely for this purpose and are still in force. This fuelled the expansion of burley and flue cured tobacco and other crops as defined in the special Crop Act.


Malawi has a relatively diverse forest and woodland vegetation (White et al. 2001).

i. Zambezian woodland is represented by three typical formations:

i. Transition woodland, intermediate between woodland and forest. It may be secondary (as a stage in the succession back to forest from former farmland or fire-induced communities) or ecotonal. It must have been formally widespread in the wetter regions of the Lake-Shore plain, but most of the original vegetation has been replaced by farmland and cash crops. In 1987 some of the woodland were moribund and smothered by forest species. Patches of transition woodland have an open discontinuous canopy and are at an early stage of development.

ii. Deciduous forest and thicket: Deciduous forest was formally widespread in the Lower Shire Valley and Phalombe Plain, where now only small patches remain. Deciduous thicket is preserved in game parks but elsewhere only small fragments remain.

iii. Evergreen forest occur in various sub-divisions:

vi. Afromontane evergreen bushland and thicket: This in part develops after destruction of W. nodiflora (W. whytei) forest by fire when Erica benguelensis colonizes and then W. nodiflora (whytei) and broadleaf forest establish.

vii. Afromontane shrubland occurs widely within the forest zone and is either edaphic or secondary, representing and early stage of forest regrowth. The speed of recovery of various shrubs after fire damage was studied on Nyika Plateau in a few places on the edge of the forest. Recovery after fiercer November fires was slower than from July fires.


Factors causing the degradation of forests and woodland are bush fires, shifting cultivation, grazing, harvesting of forests and mining industries such as Kaziwiziziwi coal mine. Generally Forest Reserves, Wildlife Reserves, National Parks and Customary Land forests are largely managed as secondary forests, or facilitate the development of secondary forest.

Secondary forest management is a new concept in the minds of many Malawians though it has been practiced over years. The description of secondary forests below reflects the management of secondary forests in Malawi.


The secondary forests in Malawi provide tangible and intangible benefits and services to the communities of the whole country as follows.


There are quite a number of problems in associated with secondary forest management. There is high pressure/demand both by human and livestock on the resource. The high population densities limit the formation of secondary forest. The land pressure is forcing smallholder farmers to go under continuous cropping. Land degradation has become acute. Soil erosion currently averages 20 tons /per ha per annum with rates more than 50 tons per ha in many areas. This problem is exacerbated by poor agronomic practices particularly in marginal lands and steep slopes. Land clearing for agriculture expansion compelled with high wood demand has led to increased deforestation (World Bank, 1992). The rising scarcity of trees has direct impact on agriculture. Loss of trees causes organic matter to mineralize and leach more quickly from the topsoil with long term effects on fertility. Secondary forests have the potential to control this situation (Campbell, 1966).

Sustainable management of secondary forests continues to be a growing challenge in Malawi. Rural communities continue to overexploit secondary forest resources due to poverty, rapid population growth and ignorance. Most rural poor communities used to live amidst rich forest resources. However, most of these resources are now non-existent and if they are still in existence, they are on the verge of being depleted resulting from mismanagement and overexploitation. The remaining forests of Malawi contain a wealth of biological diversity that if properly harnessed can offer an opportunity to develop income generating activities based on non-timber forest product (NTFPs). A community based sustainable management of Indigenous Forest Projects underway in Mwanza is showing that income generation from non-timber forest products and related activities, can build livelihood strategies by supplementing incomes and household food sources and provide for general sustainable development. This in turn can encourage communities to conserve and manage their indigenous forest resources in a sustainable manner because of the non-timber forest products' inherent direct value (Lowore, 1997).


An investigation of the effect of different degrees of cutting, early burning and full protection began in June 1958. An examination of the regeneration in October 1958 and 1960 showed abundant sprout growth from stumps but little seedling regeneration. More seedling sprouting was noted in areas with controlled burning.

Miombo woodlands in three areas (Phuyu, Chimaliro, and Dedza Trial sites) within Malawi were regenerated in 1992 and assessed to determine the woodlands' ability to regenerate from coppices and seed. Local Authorities and the private sector have been managing Miombo woodlands in a similar way. It has been through the control of burning, shifting cultivation, and harvesting from the woodlands. It has been well documented that when adequately protected from fires and grazing, Miombo woodlands can naturally regenerate either from seed, though coppicing and root suckering. Under dry tropical conditions vegetative regeneration is more effective than seed regeneration which is more subject to the negative effect of fire and herbivory. When felled near ground level, most broadleaved species, up to a certain age, reproduce from shoots sent up from the stumps or stool. Coppice shoots tend to be straight and grow faster than seedlings taking advantage of the already established root system. Shifting cultivation, a farming system widely practiced in the Miombo ecozone, has provided ample opportunity for scrutinizing regeneration patterns on fallow land. Most fallow land regeneration appears to be through root suckering (Abbott, 1993; Lowore and Abbot, 1995; Lowore et al., 1995).

All forest reserves, national Parks and Wildlife Reserves, and Customary Land forests are either under full protection, grazing or burning. However, for the local forests on customary land, there is no prescribed management and the most common degradation is from wild bush fires, opening of gardens, and harvesting of tree crops which eventually evolve into secondary forests.

Miombo woodlands offer little commercial logging and as a result have attracted limited ecological and silvicultural attention. As plantation technology developed in the 1960s, forestry involvement in the Miombo region grew - but only in the context of clearing and replacing the existing woodlands with exotic species for timber, pulp, fuel wood and pole wood (Lawton, 1982). This view is rapidly changing. Awareness is now emerging of the importance of forestry products other than timber - collectively referred to as non-timber forest products (NTFPs). In Malawi, efforts to manage Miombo woodland resources have been revived and much intensified in the last few years though they still remain in their infancy.


There a number of silvicultural systems used to manage natural woodlands worldwide. The silvicultural systems under observation in Malawi are simple but proven systems primarily adopted for the purpose of monitoring the rate and pattern of Miombo recovery; monitoring wood production coppice re-growth in the different silvicultural treatments; and for determining coppice rotations for specific end products. The systems being investigated are (Lowore, 1997):


Some Miombo woodlands of Malawi are being managed like secondary forests. The indigenous forest management practices are not just carried out on the basis of past experience, but are often based on actual knowledge concerning the ecological processes, particularly based on knowledge of the regeneration. This knowledge is reflected in the indigenous silviculture practiced by local communities in the woodlands. The local people, for example, know the time of tree planting from wildings and truncheons, and are effective in regenerating trees for, and control of, products from the woodlands, and in growing trees around the homesteads.

Their knowledge on tree regeneration capabilities to regenerate Miombo woodland through the root suckers and stump coppice has been reported by Chidumayo (1993) and Lowore (1997). For example, debarked trees should be cut in order to allow regeneration, trees should be cut to stump level to allow coppice regeneration, or tree branches should be pollarded and pruned for bark harvesting activities to ensure future use. Regrowth declines slowly with age of growth and stumps of large size do not coppice strongly (Chidumayo, 1997).

Co-management of the forest resources

In 1996 the Forest Department defined co-management as joint management by more than one Party. The type of co-management arrangement in operation will determine the legal instrument. For example, management of Forest Reserves can be done jointly by the Government and local communities or any interested party such as a Private Organization or Religious Institution. Since Forest Reserves are regarded as public land, agreement conditions would normally be restrictive. The other type of co-management would be between Government and Local Communities on customary land, Forest Reserves, National Parks, Wildlife Reserves and private forests.

The co-management arrangements outlined above are based on land tenure on which the forest resources are based. Two reasons may justify co-management of Forest Reserves:

In Malawi, the management of forest resources on both customary land and forest reserves has been the monopoly of the Government (Forestry Department). This resulted into conflicts between local communities and forestry staff in the process of law enforcement. There is a fundamental shift especially on customary land in the the involvement of local communities in conservation of the forest resources. Some of the forest reserves are already under co-management agreements, such as Chimaliro in Kasungu, Mkuwazi in Nkhatabay and Liwonde in Machinga, to be managed jointly with local the communities on a pilot basis.

Forest Act 1997 is a principal Act providing legal protection to implementation of the Forestry Policy, and provides guidelines on how co-management of forest resources on both customary land and Forest Resources could be implemented. The following sections cover co-management arrangements:

In the new era of promoting community based management of natural resources in a developing country, it is generally argued that, at the local level, customary controls over woodlands embedded in the traditional institutions have the greatest potential for being effective (McGregor, 1991).

The new paradigm for devolution of natural resource management responsibility to the local level, presupposes that community controls can be effective in the first place. This in turn presupposes that the right local institutional arrangements are in place. This requires contextualising institutional arrangements at the local level by looking at amongst other things at the role and capacity of local communities as resource users and managers, with respect to their rights of ownership and extent of resource usage in their social, economic and cultural environments. This is mainly on the basis that the many local, unique and diverse institutional arrangements in Malawi operate under different frameworks.


The National Forest Policy (1996) and Forest Act (1997) are administered by the Department of Forestry which was established in 1942.

The Malawi Cabinet approved the current Forest Policy in January 1996 to replace the outdated, old policy (1964-1996). The old policy was brief, narrow in scope and inadequate in terms of providing an enabling framework for participation of the private sector and local communities in forest conservation and management. It entailed a conservation approach of environmental planning and management of the forest resources. There was little by way of community participation. The community was supposed to stay away from the conserved resources and comply with the ordinances and objectives of forest management. This was defined from the perspective of central Government objectives and not what local communities wanted, and without their full participation. Management of resources existing in forest reserves was therefore a Government affair. The old policy did not address other crucial issues such as:

The goal of the current forest policy is to sustain the contribution of the mentioned forest resources to the upliftment of the quality of life in the country by conserving the resources for the benefit of the nation. The policy provides for Participatory Forestry, which entails co-management of forest resources by community and the public sector. The general objectives of the policy aim at satisfying the many diverse needs of the rural poor, who are identified as the most disadvantaged.

The Forest Act 1997 provides for Participatory Forestry, Forest Management, Forestry Research, Forestry Education, Forest Industries, Protection and Rehabilitation of fragile areas, International cooperation in Forestry, and for setting up of Village Natural Resources Management at local levels.

Natural resource management Institutions

There are more than ten natural resource and environmental management institutions in Malawi, such as Fisheries, National Parks, Wildlife, Water, National Herbarium and Botanic Gardens. The current policy has the potential to manage the Secondary forest through involvement of other sectors. The only constraint is shortage of personnel and training in this forestry concept.

Institutional Issues

Institutions develop rules and norms to coordinate individual actions for the accomplishment of specified objectives. These rules, created by people to manage their resources, are defined here as institutions. Under this definition, national forestry agencies are institutions. Local cooperatives that sell products made from forest resources are institutions. There are also community institutions that developed land and tree tenure regulations and various procedures to deal with conflict. However, people in all communities manipulate their rules.


Secondary woodlands (recovering degraded Miombo woodlands) have been described many times, but their ecology, silviculture and management potential are still not well understood (Lowore, 1993). A comprehensive understanding of the dynamic secondary forest management is essential for the Miombo woodlands. It has been well documented that when adequately protected from fires, grazing and shifting cultivation, secondary forest regenerates naturally either from seed or through coppicing and not suckering.

Under dry tropical conditions, vegetative regeneration is more effective than seed regeneration, which is more subject to the negative effects of fire and herbivory. In Malawi some data on Miombo coppice regrowth for poles and firewood production have been obtained from the Bunda coppice plots. However, comprehensive information on coppicing ability and regrowth of Miombo as secondary forest is neither readily available nor substantiated.

Fire control is the major consideration in the management of natural regeneration in savanna woodlands in Malawi. Fires may be natural, but deliberate burning is common in the Miombo woodland. Bush fires are often deliberately started to facilitate hunting, pasture and clearance of Tsetse flies from settlements. Whatever the case, intense dry fires are a characteristic feature of Miombo. The timing of fires is a major problem in the management of natural regeneration in woodlands in Malawi. Miombo woodlands will regenerate if the grass is burnt during the cool season (prescribed burning) because the grass is still moist and therefore burns less fiercely. Many ecologists and forest managers use fire as a management tool following strict and predetermined fire management regimes as dictated by forest management objectives. A similar approach should be used in the management of secondary forests (Malaisse, 1978).


A number of recommendations are derived from this paper:


1. Abbot, J. 1996. Rural subsistence and protected areas: Community use of the Mlombo woodlands of Lake Malawi National Park PhD Thesis University College.

2. Abbot, P.G. Research and development of simple silvicultural systems for community management of Miombo in Malawi. In: Piearce, G.D. & Gumbo, D.J. (eds). The Ecology and Management of Indigenous Forests in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe Forestry Commission and SAREC, Harare. pp. 98-105.

3. Brokensha, D. & Riley, B.W. 1980. Mbeere knowledge of their vegetation and its relevance for development. University Press of America, Inc. Washington, U.S.A. Not referenced in text

4. Campbell, B.M. (ed) 1996. The Mlombo in Transition: Woodland welfare in Africa. Centre for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia.

5. Chidumayo, E.N.1993. Silvicultural characteristics and management of miombo woodland. In: Piearce, G.D. & Gumbo, D.J. (eds). The Ecology and Management of Indigenous Forests in Southern Africa. Zimbabwe Forestry Commission and SAREC, Harare. pp. 124-133.

6. Chidumayo, E. N., 1997. Miombo Ecology and Management: An Introduction, Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm.

7. Forestry Research for Development, (1987) Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources,

8. Forestry Research Symposium to mark the Thirtieth Anniversary of Frim (1957 - 1987). Not referenced in text, or in a different way.

9. Kayambazinthu, D. 1988. Indigenous forest resources conservation in Malawi. Forest Research Institute of Malawi Report No. 88007, Zomba.

10. Lawton, R.M. 1982. Browse in Miombo woodlands. In: Browse in Africa, the current state of knowledge. International Livestock Centre for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

11. Lowore, J. 1993. Problems with management of natural forests in Malawi. Forest Research Institute of Malawi, Zomba.

12. Lowore, J.D. 1997. Coppice regeneration in some Miombo woodlands of Malawi. M. Phil. Thesis. University of Aberdeen, UK.

13. Lowore, J.D. & Abbot, P.G. 1995. Initial regeneration of Mlombo woodlands under three silviculture systems. Forestry Research Institute of Malawi, Zomba.

14. Lowore, J.D., Coote, H.C., Abbot, P.G., Chapola, G.B. & Malambo, L.N. 1995. Community use and management of indigenous trees and forest products in Malawi: a case of town villages close to Chimaliro Forest Reserve. Forest Research Institute of Malawi Report No. 93008, Zomba.

15. Malaise, F.P. 1978. The Miombo ecosystem. Tropical Forest Ecosystems, a state of knowledge report. Natural Resources Research XIV, 589-606. UNESCO/UNEP/FAO.

16. Malawi Department of Forestry Annual Report 2001 - 2002.

17. McGregor, J. 1995. A gathered produce in Zimbabwe communal areas: Changung resource availability and use. Ecology of food and nutrition. Incomplete reference

18. Tweddle, D. 1985. The importance of the Natural Parks, Game Reserves and Forest Reserves of Malawi to fish conservation. Fisheries Department.

19. USAID, 1995. A field manual for agro forestry practices in Malawi. Malawi Agro forestry Extension Project, A Government of Malawi - USAID - Washington State University Collaborative Project, Publication series No. 6, Lilongwe.

20. White, F., Dowsett-Lemaire, F & Chapman, J.D. 2001. Evergreen forest flora of Malawi. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 697 pp.

21. World Bank, 1992. Economics of environmental policy, Malawi. Volumes I and II

22. World Bank, 1995. Malawi Agriculture Sector Memorandum Vol. I and II.


1. Escarpment and Plateau Woodland 1400-3000 m elevation

A. Broadleaved Deciduous Woodland occurring as occasional remnants of an older woodland type.

On deep fertile well-drained soils:

Combretum zeyheri Vitex cuneata

Combretum molle Acacia campylacantha

Terminalia mollis Acacia galpinii

Pilliostigma thonningii Albizia antunesiana

Erythrina abyssinica Albizia harveyi

Burkea africana

Kigelia pinnta

(Evergreen components of limited extent)

Bridelia micrantha Syzygium cordatum

Rauvollfia natalensis Prunus africana

Ordia abyssinica Trichilia emetica

On sandy, stony, shallow and less fertile soils

Afromosia angolensis Afzelia quanzensis

Pterocurpus angolensis Dalbergia nitida

Parinari curatelifolia Terminalia sericea

Monotes africanus Lonchocarpus capassa

Dombeya rotundifolia Bauhinia petersiana

Cussonia kirkii Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia

Sclerocarya birrea caffra Securidaca longepedunculata

Strychnos spinosa Diplorrhynchus cordylocarpon

Faurea saligna Uapaca kirkiana

Protea spp Oxytenanthera abyssinica

(The Riverine Forest, although it cuts through the entire range of the Dry Woodlands from the highest elevations to the Lake Shore, is not considered as Dry Woodland).

Khaya nyasica Parkia filicoidea

Adina microcephala Syzygium cordatum

B. The Cultivation Steppe - large relic trees from the broadleaf dediduous forests A1 and A2, a conspicuous feature of the landscape throughout the agricultural region of the Central Plateau. Most any species may be found occasionally in the cultivation steppe, but the most frequent are:

Erythrina abyssinica Parinari curatellifolia

Rauvolfia natalensis Terminalia sericea

Bridelia micrantha Burkea africana

Piliostigma thonningii Combretum zeyheri

Afrormosia angolensis Albizia antunesian

Pterocarpus angolensis Acacia campylacantha

C. Secondary woodland after cutting and clearing A1, and allowed to regenerate without fire. Many original species return, but there is an increase in those with vigorous root sprouting and having heavy seedling characteristics, such as:

Piliostigma thonningii Brachystegia appendiculata

Kigelia pinnata Brachystegia boehmii

Acacia campylacantha Albizia antunesiana

D. Secondary woodland after cutting and clearing A2 and allowed to regenerate without fire. Most of the original species return, but with a strong increase in the following:

Parinari curatellifolia Afrormosia angolensis

Terminalia sericea Faurea saligna

Bauhinia petersiana Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia

Lonchocarpus capassa Uapaca kirkiana

Brachystegia floribunda Brachystegia spiciformis

Brachystegia boehmii Julbernardia globiflora

E. Secondary or derived woodland sometimes- sometimes produced directly by clearing and abandonment of A with severe annual fires during the period of regeneration, or derived through repeated clearing and abandonment of A, C and D. Relatively pureor mixed stands of any of a number Brachystegia with minor broadleaf and other components as listed below:

i. On deeper soils

Brachystegia appendiculata Brachystegia bussei

ii. On sandy , shallow or stony soils

Brachystegia floribunda Brachystegia boehmii

Brachystegia longifolia Julbernardia globiflora

Julbernardia paniculata Uapaca kirkiana

iii. Varying amounts of broadleaf deciduous and other species may be present, frequently of inferior form and quality.

Parinari curatellifolia Uapaca nitida

Monotes africanus Lannea discolor

Kigelia pinnata Markhamia obtusifolia

Lonchcarpus capassa Cussonia kirkii

Faurea saligna Protea spp.

Diplorrhynchus condylocarpon Acacia macrothrysa

Albizia harveyi Securidaca longipedunculata

Bauhinia petersiana

F. Degeneration stages of Dry Woodland derived from (E) above, through progressive deterioration, due to annual fires, damage by natives, over trampling by livestock and soil erosion.

i. Open Brachystegia - Isoberlinia - Uapaca woodland with a conspicuous grass understory and minor elements of Cussonia, Protea and others.

ii. Almost pure stands of poor growth Uapaca kirkiana on eroding, infertile soils, often on ridges and steep upper slopes.

iii. Almost pure stands of poor growth Brachystegia taxifolia at high elevations, such as the hill country of Mzimba. (Other individual Brachystegia species produce similar stands elsewhere.)

iv. Open semi - scrub produced by heavy use of cattle and goats with sparse grass and progressive exposure of the bare soil, increasing in amount in centers of heavy livestock concentration in Malawi.

Diplorrhynchus condylocarpon Acaacia karroo

Markhamia obtusifolia Protea sps.

Dichrostachys nyassana Cussonia kirkii

v. Poor scrub after continual over trampling by livestock and active sheet and gully erosion. This type has much the same appearance as similar areas in Tanzania in regions of very much less rainfall.

Dichrostachys nyassana Acacia spp.

Markhamia obtusifolia Commiphora spp.

Acacia karroo

2. Tropical Dry Woodland of the Lakeshore and Southern Lowlands 500 - 2000 feet elevation

G. The cultivation steppe - large trees of uncertain origin on good to medium soils.

i. Broadleaf deciduous trees with counterparts in the plateau and Escarpment dry forest:

Pterocarpus angolensis Lonchocarpus capassa

Pterocarpus spp. Sclerocarya birrea caffra

Burkea africana Combretum ternifolium

Terminalia sericea Trichilia emetica

Kigelia pinnata Acacia nigrescens

Afrormosia angolensis Afzelia quanzensis

Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia

i. Trees with much more limited range than above

Tamarindus indica Chlorophora excelsa

Cordyla africana Acacia albida

Albizia versicolor

H. Brachystegia Woodlands. Occurring with almost any possible combination of the Broadleaf Deciduous species listed above, and typical hot climate species.

Brachystegia spiciformis Brachystegia tamarindoides

Brachystegia boehmii

I. Typical hot climate species. Generally on course detritus or poor quality soils, but also on sandy alluvium which is cultivated, and in this case relic trees appear in the cultivation steppe.

Adansonia digitata Sterculia africana

Sterculia appendiculata Kirkia acuminata

J. Lakeshore scrub produced by overgrazing

Commiphora spp. Acacia spp. (Low scrub forms)

K. Species found usually in special edaphic situations

Colophospermum mopane Borassus aethiopum

Hyphaene crinita


The most useful timber species in the woodland associations in Malawi, as distinct from the closed forest (montane, riverine and lowland associations) are listed below. Species which may be desirable from the point of view of poles and fuel are not included. This list was prepared by the Department of Forestry.

1. Brachystegia Woodland: Upper Plateaus

1st Class: -

2nd Class: Faurea saligna, Uapaca kirkiana, Uapaca nitida, Bridelia micrantha, Albizzia spp., Vitex cuneata, Cordia abyssinica.

3rd Class: Brachystegia spp., Swartzia spp., Parinari curatellifolia.

2. Acacia-Combretum-Pterocarpus Woodland: Middle Plateaus

1st Class: Pterocarpus angolensis, Terminalia sericea

2ns Class: Combretum spp., Fagara nitens, Pterocarpus rotundifolius

3rd Class: Pseudolachostylis maprouneifolia

3. Terminalia-Pterocarpus-Burkea Woodland: Lower Escarpment and Rift Valley

1st Class: Pterocarpus angolensis, Burkea africana, Kirkia acuminata, Afzelia quanzensis, Terminalia sericea, Entandrophragma caudatum

2ns Class: Trichilia emetica, Albizia spp., Afrormosia angolensis, Acacia nigrescens, Sclerocarya caffra, Tamarindus indica, Cordyla africana.

3rd Class: Sterculia quingueloba, Combretum spp., Dalbergia melanoxylon, Kige

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