In July 2016, the Miombo Network – southern Africa’s oldest regional network – met in Mozambique to discuss the conservation of the endangered Miombo woodlands. The meeting resulted in a roadmap for the protection of this fragile ecosystem.
Covering approximately 2.7 million km2 across seven countries in South Africa, the Miombo woodlands are a warm dry forest ecosystem that supports the livelihoods of more than 65 million people. Importantly, rural communities use fire to manage the woodlands and this technique is critical to maintaining the ecology of the region. Globally, the Miombo woodlands are a valuable carbon repository. The Network assessed that between 30,000 – 250,000 hectares of the woodlands are degraded and / or lost annually.
Given the local and global significance of this ecosystem, the Miombo Network identified a series of actions that need to be taken to protect the Miombo woodlands.
Final recommendations include:
- Political commitment and support at regional level is critical to mobilising harmonised policies and action by member states.
- Assessing the contribution of Miombo woodlands to national economies and valuation of forest resources will provide key information that can engage policy makers.
- Communities must be enabled to negotiate land use and management options that support multiple uses of Miombo woodlands and inform restoration strategies and plans.
- Wood fuel should be considered as part of the solution to reducing fossil fuel emissions.
- REDD+ can help to mitigate the effects of climate change and to restore degraded woodland but it needs to be balanced against other management objectives.
- Research needs to be better coordinated – both within the scientific community and between researchers and government.
- Forest policies must be formulated around the concept that the Miombo species are re-sprouts, light dependent and fire adapted. They should be designed to incorporate this body of science.
For additional information on the Miombo Network, check out IUCN Forest's earlier web story.