Published Wednesday, 18th June 2014 in Study at SRUC news
MSc student Molly Rosett recently traveled to southern Malawi to collect data for her dissertation on the impacts of deforestation and forest degradation in the area on food security.
Forests play a key, yet not fully understood, role in achieving and maintaining food security in developing countries such as Malawi. The research explored the role forests play in the population’s food security, as expressed by the diversity of diet and the availability of a supply of wood fuel, indicators which help inform national forestry and agricultural policy.
The research was partially funded by SRUC and was conducted over three weeks. Working with Glory Kalagho, a local forestry extension officer, Molly interviewed 62 individuals and held six focus group discussions each involving some 10 individuals in villages throughout the Blantyre district of southern Malawi.
The district has a particularly high population density and has experienced significant deforestation in the past. The three rural villages chosen as study sites varied in both the forest composition and access rights. During the interviews the discussion focused on how, when, and where forest and tree products are used, as well as how those being interviewed perceived the causes and effects of reduced tree cover in their villages.
Malawi is an underdeveloped and largely agricultural country where a high population density and rising numbers place increasing pressure on limited land and natural resources. The discussions investigated the group members’ supply of cooking fuel, specifically the existence and use of alternatives to wood.
The aim of this research is to explore the role forests play in Malawians’ food security, as expressed by dietary diversity and fuel wood supply indicators, in order to inform national forestry and agricultural policy.
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