Miombo woodlands form an integral part of the livelihood and farming systems of southern Africa. Woodlands are held in a variety of tenurial regimes including state forests, either managed entirely by the Forest Department or co-managed with local communities, and customary land forests. Households rely on woodlands to supplement their food supply, through collection of wild food plants, bushmeat, nuts, leaves and roots. Even in times of abundance such gathered wild foods are an essential source of micro-nutrients. Woodlands are also a source of traditional medicines: income from sale of non-wood forest products such as mushrooms, and wood products such as fuelwood and poles. In commercially managed miombo forests timber is still a valuable product. The paper discusses the results of an FAO survey conducted in Malawi in 2003/4 to ascertain the impact on the resource of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the possible responses that miombo woodlands may be able to provide in terms of food, treatment of opportunistic infections using traditional medicines and income. Suggestions as to ways to directly feed these results into ongoing community forestry management programmes, as well as possible actions with regard to policy, and research direction with regard to HIV/AIDS, forestry and agroforestry focus in the miombo eco-region, are discussed.
Keywords: Fuelwood, non-timber forest products, HIV/AIDS, forest management, sustainability, land tenure, woodland degradation.