Maputaland’s woodlands are under utilization pressure inside and outside conserved areas due to mounting densities of mammals in the former and increasing human utilization of vegetation in the latter. Conservation of this biodiversity hotspot requires a better understanding of vegetation dynamics. To this purpose, woodland vegetation structure was evaluated at three sites through size class distribution analysis and grain determination, a forestry concept here applied to woodlands. The three sites represented animal disturbance/utilization, human disturbance/utilization and no disturbance/utilization regimes for comparable periods. Common species occurrence patterns differed between sites. The woodlands of all three sites were mostly fine-grained forest-like vegetation units and followed fine-grained forest dynamics closely. The grain model performed successfully for the region’s woodlands and proved a good tool to improve vegetation dynamics understanding. In general, people and herbivores led to local extirpation of species and threatened both ecological structure and function of Maputaland’s woodlands. However, the fine grain status was considered positive, as it facilitated future management options by reducing time frames and scale of management actions to be applied.