HIV/AIDS and the forest sector

In the forest sector there are three clear interfaces with the HIV/AIDS pandemic:

  • the role of trees, natural woodlands, forests and agroforestry in production systems severely affected by HIV /AIDS;
  • deaths in the cadre of foresters, including all skilled labourers, tree fellers, machine drivers, mechanics, foremen, etc.;
  • transfer of knowledge to the next generation.

Natural miombo woodlands and farmlands, northern Malawi. Such resources can be vital to the health and survival of communities affected by the AIDS pandemic. (Photo: C. Holding Anyonge)

FAO recognizes that the most important issue is to deal with the medical and health emergencies created by the HIV/AIDS pandemic through creation of public awareness programmes aimed at preventing further spread of the disease. Although this aspect of HIV/AIDS mitigation is outside the scope of agriculture and forestry departments, all sectors of society have a role in assisting and planning for the alleviation of the impact of this disease, both in the immediate and longer term.

The mandate of FAO is to address food security and poverty alleviation. The HIV/AIDS pandemic cuts right to the core of this mandate, particularly on the African continent. The FAO Forestry Department is therefore well placed to contribute to the mitigation of HIV/AIDS in the forest sector. Mitigation and response should be considered at national (strategic policy and planning), institutional (forestry department staff and workers; tertiary education; research and extension services) and local (villages and households) levels.

The forest sector can have a role in mitigating the impact of AIDS in the following ways:

  • by enhancing short-term agricultural productivity;
  • by enhancing longer-term agricultural productivity;
  • developing education and human resource development strategies in extension and forest services (forestry training and education);
  • through transfer of skills from one generation to the next;
  • by carrying out outlook studies on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the forest sector and develop policy and decision support tools.

last updated:  Tuesday, April 20, 2004