The interconnection of forests and people goes beyond forest management and forest products. This was dramatically illustrated during 2015 floods in Malawi when people climbed trees and were thereby saved from floods that killed over a hundred people in Traditional Authority Mlolo of the Nsanje District.

The role of trees in saving lives goes beyond such catastrophic events. In less dramatic ways, trees save people’s lives by reducing soil and environmental degradation that can contribute to flooding in the long run. Forests help retain soil moisture needed for crops and thus help agro-based economies. Forests are sources of water for drinking, herbs for medicines, lumber for construction, and energy through firewood and charcoal.

As the 125th Anniversary Congress illuminates, scientists explore and unpack these intersections between forests and people. In sharing information from their studies, scientists join hands in the conservation, restoration, protection, and sustainable utilization of forests that help us all survive.

Nancy Chawawa; Malawi; Doctoral Candidate at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom