King's College London

Research portal

The relationship between forest cover and diet quality: a case study of rural southern Malawi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

C Hall, I J Macdiarmid, R.B Matthews, P Smith, S. F. Hubbard, T.P. Dawson

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)635-650
JournalFood Security
Issue number3
Early online date20 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


King's Authors


The importance of forests to support the well-being of poor rural communities cannot be understated, not only for improving food security but also for biodiversity conservation. For many people living in developing regions of the world, forests provide healthy and nutrient-dense foods which can improve overall diet quality and act as a safety net during times of hardship. Forests can also provide a source of income and facilitate certain agricultural practices, potentially allowing for poverty alleviation and mitigation. This study examined whether there was a relationship between forest cover and diet quality at the household level in rural southern Malawi. Nutrition data for 2084 households collected as part of the 2010/11 Third Integrated Household Survey for Malawi (IHS3) were compared with a satellite-based land-cover map of Malawi. Our results show that households located in areas with a high percentage forest cover had significantly improved vitamin A adequacy than households in less forested areas. Likewise, we found that vitamin A intake was significantly improved by consumption of wild plant foods. Forest cover was not associated with any other indicators of diet quality, but a number of social and demographic factors were significant determinants of household diet quality, including household size, education and access to markets. Further investigation of these associations is imperative at a time when forests are being cleared at an alarming rate to make way for agricultural production.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454