Forest Policy Discussion Paper
FOREWORD AND INTRODUCTION
Forestry, by its nature and location is rurally based and
conservative. The industries which it has spawned have become successful and powerful and
dominate the Forest Industry, which in its traditional clothes can be said to have reached
maturity. It supplies our country's needs of wood products, it is a major exporter and
earner of foreign exchange, and is an employer on whom more than a million people depend
both directly and indirectly.
The era of an industry, conservative, self-sufficient and
perhaps somewhat complacent has come to an end, however. It is to become part of the new
South Africa, to recognise that there are other aspects of our national life, hitherto
largely neglected, on which forestry impinges and on which forestry must in future have a
Future forest policy must thus continue not only to foster
and encourage the industry which plays such a vital role in our economy, but also to
ensure that forestry, hitherto almost reclusive, is brought to all of our people in ways
which can enhance their quality of life in the spirit of the Reconstruction and
Development Programme, which is the over-arching guide to all our endeavours. Forestry
concerns our indigenous forest and savanna woodlands, our commercial plantations and the
industries which they support. It should also promote the planting and use of trees on
farms, in villages and towns and cities for beauty, recreation, for shade and for fuel and
for many other functions in the everyday life of our people.
A forest policy is about our common vision of how to
achieve these things for the national benefit. It is about the place of law, of
government, of organisations, companies and individuals in forestry, and how all of these
should interact. It is about measures to bring harmony in the relationships among the
different elements that lay claim to our land and scarce water resources, and to bring
equity into their allocation. It is about the preservation of our flora and fauna and the
natural environment. It is about people and the forest environment, their working
conditions and their livelihood.
It would be too much to expect that we will soon achieve
all of these objectives and that a forest utopia is at hand. That is sadly not possible
for any of South Africa's problems after all of the years of neglect. We are, however, in
the process of making a determined start and it is against this background that the
process of formalising a new forest policy was begun when I called together the recent
Forestry Conference, representative of all sectors of the forest community. I was
delighted with the response and with the eagerness of all the participants from so many
differing backgrounds, including the international community, to discuss views and
problems which they had never before had to face, and to present suggested paths for their
The Conference and the invaluable input of all its
participants was preparatory to the preparation of this Discussion Document, which in its
turn will lead to a draft White Paper, the penultimate step to a formal forest policy
endorsed by Parliament. That final policy should ideally not be my policy alone or the
policy of my Department, but a policy reached by the consensus of all of us who will in
some way be touched by it.
I appeal to you therefore to study this Discussion Document
very carefully and to comment on it, to modify it, to improve on it. Please be clear in
your minds that it in no way indicates any official bias or tendency. It indicates rather
all of the majority policy directions that were aired at the Conference, and asks for
comment on these. Some of the views are provocative and some are extreme. All are worthy
of your consideration.
May I therefore emphasise that the draft policy that arises
from this Document and from your comments will be a combined effort. Final forest policy
will be truly OUR forest policy and in the interests of all of our people. I am determined
that this Policy will not, as in the past, be made behind closed doors, but will be open
and participative as is the general policy of your new Government.
In conclusion, I must express my warmest thanks to Dr Fred
Kruger and his Editorial Committee, and to Ms Tisha Greyling and her secretariat. I know
that I gave them an almost impossible schedule that was dictated by the Parliamentary
programme. They excelled themselves in meeting it.
Prof Kader Asmal, MP
Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry
Republic of South Africa
2. ISSUES, POLICY OPTIONS AND STRATEGIES
4. APPENDIX I - THE STATE OF FORESTRY IN
SOUTH AFRICA TODAY
List of Tables
List of Boxes
The editorial committee which compiled
this document is:
Fred Kruger, Division of Forest Science and Technology, CSIR (Convenor)
Christa Barnard, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
Lael Bethlehem, National Labour, Economic and Development Institute
Hennie Coetzee, Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
David Cooper, Land and Agriculture Policy Centre
Mike Edwards, Forest Industries Association
David Gevisser, Special Adviser to the Minister
Tisha Greyling, Greyling Liaison cc
Appreciation is expressed to the editorial
committee and to Forestek of the CSIR for their support and assistance with this document.
Final editing was done in the office of the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry.
The discussion paper was developed with
financial and technical support from DANCED. Henrik Oleson contributed to the editing of
the document, and Anders Billeschou, technical consultant to DANCED, contributed
significantly to its contents.
There are two kinds of forests in South Africa: natural
forests and woodlands, and plantation forests.
The different kinds of forest and woodland vegetation are
listed in Table 1.1, together with estimates of their extent. Woodlands include both the
woodland and wooded grassland categories in Table 1.1.
The South African forest policy has been uniquely formed by
the struggle for land and natural resources in the country (see Box 2.1 for a case study
on the Dwesa Forest).
The struggle for land influenced forestry from the
beginning (e.g. Box 2.1). The Natal Ordinance No. 2 of 1855 "... to prevent
unlicensed squatting and to regulate the occupation of land by Natives" and the
Squatters' Rent Law of 1884 are among the early land-related statutes invoked to support
the control of occupation and use of undemarcated forest land. The Natives Land Act of
1913 and the Natives Trust and Land Act of 1936 later also played a role.
Table 1.1 Extent of the different forest
and woodland types in South Africa
Forest type Structural description Extent (ha)
and brief definition
Plantations Single species (usually either pine 1,390,000
or eucalyptus), regular spacing,
Forests Closed canopy with three or more 327,600
tree layers; many species and age
classes; typically 5 to 20 m tall.
Fires penetrate only rarely.
Woodlands 40-99% canopy cover, usually a tree 1,240,000
layer, shrub layer and grass layer,
typically 6m or more tall; regular
Wooded As above, but 5-40% canopy cover; 26,600,000
grasslands typically less than 6m tall
Environmental concerns about forestry emerged from about
the mid-eighteenth century, focusing on the ecological and hydrological effects of fire,
and the need to conserve forests for the greater good.
Controversy about the effects of afforestation on water
supplies began in the 1920s, and continues today. This led to the controls on
afforestation that have been applied for the last 23 years. Only about 1% of the country
is afforested, but this has led to intense controversy about broader environmental
impacts, not just impacts on water.
A new forest policy must address the needs of South Africa
for the benefits coming from forestry, tangible and intangible, while also helping to
resolve these conflicts, and meeting the needs of communities, workers and businesses
involved in forestry.
|Box 2.1 Progress through negotiation: the Dwesa
community on the Eastern Cape coast - from conflict to community participation
The 4,100 ha Dwesa Nature Reserve contains an astonishing diversity
of land forms: rocky shores, sandy beaches, highly productive grasslands, wetlands,
estuaries and open woodlands. The people have co-existed with these diverse ecosystems for
at least 300 years. The present community is poorly educated, and most households have an
income of below R500 per month. There is no piped water, sewerage, electricity or
telephones, and the roads are poor. Schools are primitive and hospitals are remote and
Dwesa was demarcated a State Forest in 1890. Local people
were allowed to harvest forest produce and shellfish under supervision of foresters. They
had unrestricted access to their ancestral graves, sea water for rituals and beach sand
for building, but had to pay a nominal fee to harvest forest plants. Their cattle grazed
within the boundaries of the unfenced State Forest.
In 1976 Dwesa was proclaimed a nature reserve under the
Transkei Nature Conservation Act, Act 6 of 1971, and managed by the former Transkei
Department of Nature Conservation. Members of the local community continued to have access
to resources as before. But, when in 1981 rhinoceros and other wildlife were introduced to
the reserve, it was fenced and the community excluded.
People soon became impoverished through lack of access to
the reserve's resources. Large numbers of cattle died during drought, while inside the
reserve the grasslands became rank and unproductive. Laws were rigidly enforced.
Communication between the local community and conservation staff virtually ceased.
After the April 1994 elections, the community held several
meetings with the nature conservation authorities in Umtata, expressing their need for
access to and controlled use of the protected area. After months of no response, people
began protest action which culminated in organized destruction of the marine shell-fish
resources. During the spring tides between September and November 1994, hundreds of women
and children descended on the rocky shores of Dwesa and removed every piece of shellfish
using spades, crowbars and picks. They also felled forest saplings. Law enforcement
failed. A political and conservation crisis ensued which was exacerbated by pressure from
the media, the public and green NGOs.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Environment in the Eastern
Cape then commissioned a scientific investigation to recommend appropriate steps for a
solution. Meanwhile, the reserve was invaded a second time. The report recommended several
- a representative local "Conservation Forum" for
negotiations (at that stage such a forum had already been initiated by the community);
- community-based law enforcement;
- improved communication and environmental education which
addressed local needs;
- controlled harvesting of resources, based on scientific
studies and community needs;
- initiation of development projects which would not destroy
the character of the area.
These recommendations and subsequent meetings caused the
spirit to change from confrontation to cooperation. Community leaders undertook to abide
by restrictions, as long as these were based on sound information, and undertook to
enforce regulations themselves. The Conservation Forum has since grown from strength to
strength, and most local people abide by the new regulations.
Early in 1995, a multi-disciplinary group of specialists
designed a bioregional development plan for the Dwesa area, which was explained to and
discussed with the Conservation Forum and other members of the community. This proposal
now carries their full support. The development plan will be completed in February 1996.
Meanwhile, several development projects are being initiated.
Back to Contents
Policy is a statement of intents or objectives that
government sets out as part of its overall vision. It provides a framework that guides and
determines the action of government and the firms and people interested in and affected by
the policy. The Government of National Unity is committed to a process which involves as
wide a spectrum of society in policy making. This Discussion Document is part of such a
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Our highly successful forestry industry, the natural
forests and woodlands which are conserved in State Forests, National Parks, nature
reserves, and private farms, are all set beside deep rural poverty and significant
environmental degradation, the outcomes of the apartheid policies recently ended in South
The National Forestry Policy Conference on 2 and 3 March
1995 drew together a broad representation of parties interested in a new policy for South
Africa's forests and forestry. Delegates expressed marked differences in view, for
example, between the interests of labour and the interests of business, and on questions
relating to the environment. Many deep concerns were expressed.
Nevertheless, the delegates clearly saw the prospect of a
future for people involved with forests and forestry, based on the common ground they
found and the respect they showed for the different points of view of others. Some
elements to describe this prospect would include the following:
- a prosperous forest sector, with the benefits shared between
companies, their employees and shareholders, and communities;
- a life of dignity for rural people marked by having their
needs for water, other basic requirements and a quality environment met adequately and
- a sense of ownership in our forest, woodland and plantation
resources among landowners,local communities and the public at large, matched by
responsibilities in the way they use the resources as well as a recognition of both the
traditional and the new values attached to these resources;
- the present divide between the white commercial sector and
the black subsistence sector would disappear;
- a satisfaction among environmental concerns and those who
practice forestry that what is precious in the South African environment would be
protected and wisely used, while economic development would proceed freely wherever
beneficial and sustainable;
- a vigorous and competitive private sector, where companies
and new entrepreneurs would conduct business freely and profitably, within the parameters
determining social and environmental responsibility.
These views expressed here provide a starting point for the
process of finding a common vision.
This document is a discussion document only. Its objective
is to stimulate debate and discussion. The document does not attempt to set out a
preferred policy standpoint. No statement in this document should be construed as official
An attempt has been made to use simple language and to
avoid technical jargon except where it is unavoidable.
The document has two main sections. Chapter 2 sets out the
main policy issues and problems facing the forestry sector in South Africa at this time.
There are widely differing opinions on many of the issues and an attempt has been made to
present the different opinions as fairly as possible. The Appendix provides a great deal
of background information on forestry and the forestry industry in the country. This
provides the context for the present policy debate.
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2. ISSUES, POLICY OPTIONS AND STRATEGIES
Although there is a forest policy for the country, it has
not been well documented in the past 20 years. Some prominent aspects of current forest
- the devolved management of wilderness areas and other
extensive conservation areas on State forests under the responsibility of the Provinces;
- responsibility for management, or oversight of management,
of natural forests in State forests retained by the Department of Water Affairs and
- an annual national inventory of commercial plantation forest
resources and wood-processing industries;
- national self-sufficiency in wood for commercial purposes;
- a free market and free trade in wood and products from wood;
- the establishment of Safcol as a State-owned asset;
- the absence of incentives for afforestation;
- the control of afforestation in favour of water resources,
with provision for other environmental impacts through environmental impact assessment
- a social forestry responsibility for government, pursued
through a nursery and a woodlot programme in Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and
the Biomass Initiative of the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, now being
implemented by the Independent Development Trust;
- recognition of self-regulation by companies and farmers with
respect to environmental management and sustainability.
These elements do not currently reflect a clear vision for
government and its stakeholders, nor the views of society as a whole in South Africa.
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All elements of the policy should be tested against a set
of principles, that would allow us to determine when the policy is right or wrong.
Important principles which emerged at the Conference are as follows:
- a national policy: the policy should recognise that
we are all of one nation, and should not allow separate interests to jeopardise the common
- an integrated forest policy: the forest policy should
be integrated with the overall policies for the country, especially the Reconstruction and
Development Programme, and should lead the way to a sustainable forest sector;
- a people-driven and consultative policy: effective
and transparent governance in the implementation of policy, with progressive clarification
of the respective roles of central, provincial and local government, of the Forest Forum
of the private sector, and of empowered community-based organisations; special attention
is needed in the creation of capacity at grass-roots level to engage in forest-related
plans and projects; special attention should be given to mechanisms for ongoing
participation in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of policy;
- a policy that will provide long-term work security:
and that will lead to an environment in which people are proud to work and are able to
contribute to nation-building;
- a policy that will lead to new opportunities, based
on past achievements, to which everyone should have equal opportunity of access;
- a policy that will lead to democratisation of all the
institutions involved in the sector in such a way that all stakeholders have sufficient
opportunity to participate in policy making and decision taking, and so that the right to
determine our own future, especially at local levels, is properly protected;
- a policy that will recognise the role of women in
forestry: a major matter of principle relates to the role of women in forestry; in
many respects, African women hold the key to successful rural development, not simply
because they are so often the effective heads of households, but also because of their
greater aptitude for many kinds of work than men, their facilitation skills and
demonstrated enterprise; on the other hand, an unsustainable burden falls upon most rural
women; measures are required to ensure that women have the power and authority to
influence policies, plans and projects.
- the policy should ensure that forest resources are
sustainably managed: to meet the social economic, cultural and spiritual human needs
of future as well as present generations, the policy should recognise the interdependence
between environment and development and provide the framework and methods to ensure that
our forest, woodland, and plantation resources are used and managed in an environmentally
Several factors determine the need for a new Forest Act.
These include (a) the need for democratically based law, (b) existence of certain
incongruencies in the present Act, and (c) the need to incorporate relevant provisions
arising from international law and custom.
2.3.1 The scope and content of forest
law and policy
Present forest law and policy reflects an integrated
approach to protection, management, and use of forest resources, of any kind. This
approach has the advantage that forest resources are clearly identified on the national
agenda, with clear responsibilities defined; it accords with international custom and
"soft" law. Furthermore, it reflects the responsibility, recognised in national
and international norms and law, that each farmer, forester, or enterprise has to ensure
that the forest estate is sustainably managed, which is the core of the concept of
environmentally sustainable development.
The alternative is to separate the portfolio of resource
conservation from the portfolio of resource exploitation; the conservation provisions of
the Forest Act, for example, would be removed and placed with the Environment Conservation
Act. Through this, the industry as such would operate within the framework of independent
enabling legislation, while simultaneously being controlled by environmental legislation,
and the conflict of interest would be removed. Government forest functions would then have
a strong affinity with agriculture: a change in present government organisation could
How the current Forest Act is revised will depend on the
choice between these two approaches.
Revising the Forest Act
The process of revision would need to address several
issues, as outlined below.
Conservation of the forest resource as a whole
- conservation of forests: should all present forest land
(including woodlands) be protected irrespective of ownership? There would need to be
provision for different ownerships and uses (central and local government, local
communities, big private companies, small-holders), bearing in mind provisions for joint
or participatory forest management;
- the allowable uses of resources in protected forest;
- privatisation of State forests;
- nature reserves, wilderness areas and national parks in
terms of the Forest Act and other statutes would need to be properly recognised, and the
role of a new forest act with regards to these lands must be clarified;
- recognition of the rights of local communities.
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Sustainable forest management
- conservation within protected forests: matters such as
protection of water resources and soils, conservation of biodiversity, cultural heritage
and scenic beauty;
- forest management within protected forests would need to be
described in terms of the multiple functions and sustainable use of forest lands;
- public access to forests for recreation, grazing, collection
of wood and other forest products will have to be treated together with provisions for
joint or participatory forest management; certification of sustainable forest management
must be considered.
Control of afforestation
- provision for guidelines and regulations directed at
protecting water resources and nature, and revision of the afforestation permit system.
- provisions for protection against fire, pests and diseases,
consistent with the provisions of plant protection legislation.
Environmental impacts of afforestation
- afforestation for catchment rehabilitation and control, sand
dune fixation and other conservation measures including forests' role as carbon sinks.
Government's role and supporting institutions
- forest authorities and law administration; Forest Forum;
- recognition of and delegation to local government,
community-based organisations, and others;
- forest research and training may be included in the act, or
they may be dealt with better in other legislation;
- forest inventories, forest statistics and other monitoring
of forest resources;
- incentives such as tax exemptions, grants and soft loans to
support afforestation for conservation and recreation, to support public access and
recreation facilities, restoration of degraded lands, and related matters;
- financing of administration, grants, loan interests,
research and training may be included via tariffs and charges.
- provision where necessary for community forestry and
Items to be omitted from the new act
- the new forest act should not deal with the National
Botanical Institute and National Botanic gardens;
- the new forest act should not deal with the National Hiking
Way System (but with public access and recreation in a general manner);
- the new forest act should not deal with timber quality or
timber prices; they are best left with the market forces, and timber trade should follow
general trade rules;
- control of airborne pollution and other external hazards
must be dealt with in other legislation;
- land use planning will affect forest lands and
afforestation, but it is dealt with in other law(s).
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With the new constitution and the significant changes
resulting from the devolving of the State commercial forestry activities to Safcol,
government must now define and establish a new role with respect to forestry and its many
Broadly speaking, government as a whole (central,
provincial, and local) could play its part in three different ways. First, it could do
this by command and control, regulating and policing many if not all matters in detail,
and doing much of the work itself. This approach has been discredited all over the world
as being inefficient and unsustainable. There are however elements of this approach still
being practised. State Forests and private forests are managed by excluding most people
and tight control of all activities in the forest areas.
A second way of governing would be strategic, where
government would gather information about forests and forestry, assess the state of
resources and their management, and use certain mechanisms such as consultative forums,
incentives, and persuasion to influence developments to meet agreed-upon goals. This would
include supporting the other stakeholders in the sector, for example, by providing legal
certification for sustainably-managed forests.
A third way would be by playing a minimum role, and
allowing the constitution and the common law as well as a minimum of statutes, market
forces, and the common interest to determine what individtals, firms and various
interested groups do or don't do. When we discuss the
policy issues below, we will try to show the options in the
light of these different ways of governing.
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2.5.1 The future of the forests of the former homelands
Government's function in commercial forestry has changed
with the establishment of Safcol. However, the forests of the former homelands are
currently the responsibility of central government.
There is strong opinion against the Department of Water
Affairs and Forestry playing the role as manager of these forests as a commercial
operation, because it now lacks the capacity to do this, because of the prospect of an
undue influence of government in business, as in the past, and because of the greater net
benefits to the taxpayer that would accrue from commercialisation of the forests. However,
the situation is not simple: many staff are involved, more, proportionately, than would be
supported by a commercial operation, the land may be needed in the land reform programme,
and the ultimate form of commercialisation chosen (corporate, or small-farmer and small
business) is still an open question, the asset base may not be attractive for a commercial
operation; these issues need careful evaluation before they can be resolved.
The options available are:
- to transfer the assets and liabilities to Safcol, to be
managed as part of Safcol's commercial operation, or to be managed with a subsidy to
compensate for the costs of making the operations commercially viable;
- to sell the assets, with the land being made available on a
long-term lease, to interested parties from the private sector, including farmers;
affirmative action guidelines could be applied to ensure the entry of black-owned
businesses and black farmers into this sector;
- to use all or part of the land and assets in the land reform
programme, to settle new farmers on the land as forest farmers or otherwise, on the basis
of local consultation and negotiation;
- to excise land important for catchment protection and
habitat and biodiversity conservation, and dispose of the balance through one of the
options outlined here.
A combination of all of these options would also be
2.5.2 Restructuring the role of
government in the commercial forestry sector
The creation of Safcol fell short of full privatisation of
a government function. There are several options for the future which must all be examined
and consulted widely. Some options include the following:
- privatisation of the company through sale of shares:
government could retain a majority or a minority shareholding or none at all; limitations
could be placed on shareholding to ensure black empowerment, participation by individuals,
and to prevent dominance by large companies as shareholders
- government retains its sole ownership, and employs Safcol
for strategic aims, such as supply to new processing plants for increasing value-addition
within the country.
These and any other options need to be carefully evaluated
and tested through wide consultation.
2.5.3 Process for choosing among
The choices available could be addressed in the following
- consultation with the private sector, workers, community,
and other interested and affected parties to determine detailed concerns and issues
related to the future of the resources;
- inventory, assessment and valuation of the former homeland
forests, and an audit of the staffing and competency levels and financial state of the
entities currently managing them;
- examination of the experience in other countries in
disposing of State forest assets, such as in New Zealand, Uganda and Kenya;
- assessment of the financial viability of alternative models
of ownership and management of the forest resources;
- evaluation of strategies for enhancing value-addition to
wood within South Africa;
- implementation under the direction of a task force
representing appropriate government departments, the private sector, labour and civil
Properly directed, this process could run its course within
three to five years.
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2.6.1 Frameworks for planning forestry programmes and
In many districts, further afforestation of any scale is
constrained by concerns about water resources, loss of habitat and biodiversity, or
unwanted social impacts, or any combination of these. In others, these constraints are
less important and there is significant potential for afforestation.
Present policies and strategies recognize this diversity in
part, by differentiating between the state of water resources in each of the major
catchments in the country for example. Nevertheless, every project involving afforestation
of any kind currently requires the detailed procedure of the afforestation permit system,
and a full environmental impact analysis if public representation requires this. This
requirement will severely inhibit afforestation, and is especially burdensome for small
farmers and communities wanting to afforest.
An alternative approach could involve a district-level
planning framework, linked with water-resource management strategies at catchment level, a
link which can readily be achieved through information technologies such as geographical
information systems. Properly facilitated participation by interest groups in each
district would ensure that people's aspirations are incorporated. Such a framework would:
[ Top ]
- identify districts in which further afforestation must be
controlled or limited, and where detailed permit procedures would be needed, while
indicating others where afforestation could proceed for the present with less constraint;
- relate afforestation potential to socio-economic factors and
the state of soils and climate, to guide implementation of incentive schemes in the social
- streamline and standardise decision instruments such as
permit application procedures and environmental impact assessment to reduce their cost and
associated delays, while improving the quality of the decisions;
- find the optimum set of limitations, incentives, and
disincentives to apply in each district of the country.
This would require a coordinated process among relevant
ministries, to ensure that the natural resources legislation (such as the Conservation of
Agricultural Resources Act and the Environmental Conservation Act) and policy is developed
to provide such a framework. Examples exist elsewhere, such as the Resource Management Act
of 1991 in New Zealand. Such a framework would allow the development of a hierarchy of
policies and plans, from central to local level, and satisfy many of the expectations
expressed by people involved in the forest policy debate.
2.6.2 Support to small growers and
Government is intent on developing its role as a supporter
of forestry, especially through social forestry and the small-farmer sector. Clear
policies, strategies, and framework plans, based on information and broad participation,
are needed at the outset.
Support through extension services is an obvious need. The
most effective way of doing so and empowering beneficiaries to gain the best advice and
choose effectively among real options needs to be developed. It is vital that farmers and
small businesses have ready access to objective information and advice so that they can
exercise good judgement in their own decisions. Financial services and development of
management skills are also important. Incentives, such as the currently proposed subsidies
need to be strategically applied. Government and the private sector need to clarify
complementary and mutually reinforcing roles, since both already promote forestry among
farmers and communities.
Policy choices are important here. Rather than choose to
provide the services itself, a policy which may prove to be unsustainable in the face of
financial limitations, the government may choose to support beneficiaries through advice,
facilitation (such as for the formation of local cooperatives), and credit. Communities,
small farmers and businesses would then call on consultants and NGOs to obtain services
according to their needs, and be empowered to make sound decisions when contracting with
large companies. Such a policy can be designed to put the power of choice into the hands
of intended beneficiaries.
The lessons from around the world show that bureaucracy
must be ruthlessly minimised if rapid progress is desired. The simpler and more direct the
procedures for delivering support to beneficiaries and in reaching policy and planning
decisions, the more rapidly development follows.
The current support and extension programme may therefore
need to be re-evaluated and, if necessary, redesigned:
- to ensure its fitness for a strategic approach to forestry
development, as suggested in 2.6.1 above;
- to ensure that the programmes are aligned with current rural
development strategies, by pilot implementation together with the current small-farmer
support and land reform pilot projects in the RDP;
- to evaluate the delivery system and ensure that it leads to
empowerment of the intended beneficiaries and viable, self-sustaining forestry projects,
and avoid ones which are dependent on government.
2.6.3 Management of natural forests and woodlands
Another set of issues relates to the conservation of
forests and woodlands, and the responsibilities for executing conservation programmes and
managing the resource. The need for participatory management favours the delegation of
this function. Also important is the question of the monitoring and evaluation of the
state of forestry, and of forests and woodlands, to determine whether national and
international norms are attained, and to intervene if they are not. This would be
especially important if the function were to be delegated.
A people-driven approach to the development and
implementation of policy presents special challenges. Issues arising in regard to
participation by communities and individuals include the following:
- the need for investment to ensure that communities and
interest groups are capable and able to participate;
- legal and institutional protection of their rights to
participate, even in the face of recalcitrant government and commercial institutions;
- institutions and procedures that would facilitate and
accelerate negotiation and joint planning and management, involving communities,
private-sector interests, and government agencies.
Many lessons have been learnt around the world about the
successes and failures of participatory forest management. These lessons need to be
evaluated and applied in pilot projects for South Africa.
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Integrated rural development means that the people in every
district should implement the best set of development options available to them, measured
by the following criteria:
- social: where rural development leads to overall benefits by
the provision of social amenities such as education, democratic decision making,
recreational facilities, and adequate health care;
- economic: where economic activity is encouraged sufficiently
in rural areas to provide job security and a sustainable improvement in living standards
and involves simultaneous, harmonious development of several sectors such as agriculture,
forestry, tourism, and small enterprises;
- environmental: economic activity can only take place by
using natural resources; managing the natural resource base in a sustainable way is
critical to both rural and urban economies, the more so for rural people who are directly
dependent on natural resources to secure a livelihood; it is therefore critical that
environmental planning is done in conjunction with overall development planning in rural
In meeting these aspects policy should consider the
- the close cooperation that is required between the forestry
industry, government, other economic sectors, local forums and labour unions in developing
a common vision for rural development;
- the contribution that commercial forestry can make in job
and entrepreneurship creation in rural areas, especially by small-grower schemes, noting
that government support is still required to enable small growers to be independent from
the large companies, and the need for a responsible contracting sector to arise;
- the fuelwood requirements of rural communities that can be
obtained from indigenous woodlands, as residual material from commercial plantations, and
through social forestry programmes;
- the role of trees, woodlands and forests in the cultural
life of rural people; provision should be made for sacred ancestral sites, access to
medicinal plants and building materials;
- the role of emergent small farmers practising forestry or
agroforestry on their farms in collectively contributing in the forestry industry and the
feasibility of their making a significant contribution to domestic wood supply;
- that wood from existing and new forests can contribute to
vigorous integrated rural development because of low entry barriers to small wood-based
industries and the real growth and profitability of these businesses, arising from the
linkage with housing and household needs (e.g. furniture);
- innovation in the processing sector can contribute to growth
in district economies, especially through greater beneficiation of raw materials and
waste; linkage with the SMME and local service centres initiative of the Department of
Trade and Industry should be used to accelerate technological innovation;
- opportunities exist in the need for investment in more
processing capacity in pulp and paper manufacture and many other processing industries, as
well as the drive to increase value addition in South Africa, to guide and support such
investment and exploit the job multiplier effect of these projects
- further ways of encouraging large companies through their
social responsibility programmes to contribute to living standards and human resource
development among communities involved in forestry;
- opportunities for increasing the benefits from commercial
estates through multiple-use forest management, through non-wood forest products,
ecotourism and other developments, which could be improved through motivation and
- the potential for forestry (especially because of rising
wood prices) to contribute to development in districts experiencing economic decline, such
as in the Stilfontein and adjoining districts where mine closures are causing
Other relevant options arise in the discussion on the role
of government and on social forestry.
[ Top ]
The rapidity with which land issues are resolved
effectively will have strong bearing on the rate of rural development in South Africa.
Unresolved land disputes will paralyse the emergence of new farmers and enterprises, will
cause continuing social unrest and violence, and will turn investment away.
State land has been earmarked for the pool for restitution
of land claims in the new dispensation. Both the State land administered by Safcol and the
land of the former homelands forests are therefore involved in some degree.
Restitution does not necessarily imply reoccupation; one
alternative is an equitable basis for sharing the benefits derived from the land. The land
restitution process could be facilitated by Safcol and the Department's participation in
the land reform pilot projects in the Western Cape.
2.9.2 Land conflict in forestry
areas: land redistribution
Current land reform initiatives are likely to impact on
negotiations on land in forestry. The Department will need to ensure that its strategies
and those of the current pilot projects of the Department of Land Affairs are compatible.
Government policy should build on the initiative,
pragmatism and contributions embodied in the examples of successful negotiation outlined
in Chapter 4. The problem of land disputes and competing claims need not be seen as one in
which the government must be the backstop in all situations and "rescue" current
owners and claimants from any costs or responsibility for solving their problems.
The costs should be shared between the various parties
involved and the State. Thus, the State could encourage locally negotiated settlements by
providing support in the form of housing subsidies or contributions to the cost of
additional land where the scale of the problem requires a land base beyond that which the
current landowner can provide. Other forms of support could include the provision of
services and agricultural support services to the new owners. Durable solutions could be
reinforced further by providing the rural housing policies now being developed for
companies to access subsidies, on the condition that they give security of residential
tenure. The same could apply for rural schools.
Similarly, the land claimants should contribute to the
viability of the settlements, through imposing clear internal rules and controls, building
boundary fences, assisting with fire control and, in some instances, having to move their
homesteads to new locations. Where the land claim is not based on strong historical claims
to the land in question, claimants could also be expected to contribute towards the costs
of the land. The rural tradition of communities contributing to the costs of establishing
services such as water supply, roads and schools should be built upon.
A key measure would be the introduction of legislation to
recognise and protect the rights of long-term occupants of forestry land; the Restitution
Act has precedents for these kinds of rights. The protective aspect of such legislation
would restrict the circumstances under which landowners could legally evict rights
holders. At the same time such legislation would be an incentive to those landowners who
have already begun the process of give and take through negotiated settlements. It would
ensure an equal legal and economic environment so that the more progressive companies do
not find their competitiveness compromised. Furthermore, it averts the danger of the more
responsible landowners being influenced by tensions caused by evictions in their vicinity.
A key incentive would be that agreements reached through
local negotiations would be reviewed for fairness and then recorded as valid and permanent
settlements of outstanding or pending land rights claims in respect of that land, thus
continuing the underlying goal of negotiations, which is to achieve stability in land
rights. There are currently initiatives being undertaken by the Ministry of Land Affairs
to develop such legislation.
2.9.3 New afforestation
New afforestation projects, of any scale, will have the
potential for conflict on the question of land rights and the access to resources, the
more so since a large portion of the suitable land occurs in the former homelands. The
lessons from land conflict in current forestry areas provide a guide for procedures to
apply in new afforestation proposals.
[ Top ]
The new policy should identify all roleplayers in social
forestry. With sound macro-economic policy, the country would see market forces operating
more effectively, in due time throughout the country. We have already seen that black
farmers with access to land respond to markets for wood; farmers near Richards Bay began
to plant trees long before the small-grower schemes were initiated. Furthermore, the
mutual interest shared between forestry companies and farmers has already led to companies
providing support to small growers. Thus, farmers would respond to good markets for wood
by planting more trees.
A strategic role for government is suggested by the
- the opportunity to contribute to the goals of the RDP
through social forestry;
- forestry can make contributions in remote rural situations;
- new enterprises that can be built upon forest resources;
- the need to strengthen the capability of disadvantaged
communities and farmers to participate in social forestry;
- the need for investment to rehabilitate degraded rural and
- the anticipated lag in providing for the energy needs of
remote rural communities, and thus the continued potential for deforestation;
- the opportunity to accelerate rural development through a
partnership between government, the private sector, and disadvantaged communities.
Careful evaluation of appropriate social forestry models is
needed. Social forestry programmes elsewhere have often failed, not least because they
were not conceived and designed to become financially self-sustaining and socially
sustainable. Policies where government (or international development agencies) undertook
the programmes usually failed. Policies which created the conditions where farmers and
others choose to enter forestry for the financial benefits they could obtain tended to
The policy for social forestry would need to address
- the need for a framework to choose the best social forestry
strategies in each district, based on understood determinants of social forestry and
agroforestry potential, which takes account of biophysical potentials in different parts
of the country, technical factors determining the choice of systems, economic factors at
different scales including the household economy (including such things as household time
budgets), social and institutional arrangements, and the energy strategy for the country;
- the need for participatory planning and project development
at local and district levels;
- interventions that may be effective to stimulate sustainable
ways of supplying seedlings of appropriate trees;
- the need for an appropriate and sustainable extension and
- the need for accelerated training at all levels in modern
approaches to social forestry.
Significant questions need addressing regarding the
organisation and role of government at central, provincial and local levels, and the
relationships between them, as well as the role of community-based organisations and NGOs.
[ Top ]
Achieving maximum economic, social and environmental
benefit from our water resources is vital for South Africa.
New policy would need to address several things:
- for the goal of most-beneficial use of water to be achieved,
any policy must be even-handed in its treatment of the sectors competing for water;
- it would need to be efficient, providing the greatest
benefit at least cost, and equitable, ensuring just access to the benefits yielded;
- it must resolve issues at the local level, while
simultaneously accommodating the interests of the region and the country as a whole, and
of the international community;
- the afforestation permit system, as the instrument through
which government controls afforestation, needs to be developed;
- the new framework should clearly identify the districts
where forestry (and other land uses) can proceed with minimum administrative requirements,
and the districts where certain constraints would apply, recognising differing needs of
the different catchments and districts of the country;
- it must help to address local concerns, including those of
black communities afraid to lose local water supplies through small-scale afforestation; a
framework of this kind is outlined in section 2.6.1;
- environmental concerns need to be addressed by proper
implementation of the participatory evaluation of permit applications announced by the
Minister, but the costs to the applicant must not be unreasonable; legitimate entrants to
forestry, especially small farmers and communities must not be excluded; streamlined
assessment procedures are needed.
The concept of Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) offers
an alternative way of managing and using natural resources, particularly water, land and
the natural environment. In such an approach, competing users, including forestry, would
attempt to find the best use of water by negotiation and consensus on the basis of the
relative benefits and disadvantages of various mixes of resource use. The approach would
require efficient methods to assess and compare the environmental, social, economic, legal
and political effects of proposed land-use change, including afforestation. Also essential
would be mechanisms to assist in resolving conflicts among groups, and effective
institutional frameworks to facilitate the involvement of the people living and working in
the catchment in resource-use decisions.
[ Top ]
Much, if not most, of the predicted increased demand for
wood must be met from domestic resources. Because of the long-term nature of forestry,
plans are needed now to address such a shortfall.
We have two broad sets of options available to us. The
first is to rely on the forces of the national and international markets and encourage
trade in wood and wood products. Price would determine how much wood is grown locally, or
how much is imported and used to gain greater value. Our domestic market would be
competitively supplied. Wood could be imported from countries where the social and
environmental costs are lower. Should domestic production of pulpwood be inadequate, for
example, it may become necessary to import chips or pulp, but this would be beneficial if
manufactured products of higher value were to be exported.
This approach would result in increased afforestation to
some degree inside the country, as determined by the economic returns expected by
land-owners (relative to other land uses) and regulatory constraints. It has the risk of
exposing the country to future foreign-exchange losses and to loss of potential
investments in job-creating wood processing capacity (though the investment funds could go
into other, more profitable projects).
Alternatively, a strategy based on the estimated capacity
for our natural resources to supply our needs could be devised, which would include
- promote investment in research for improved, sustainable
yields from the current afforested areas, including:
- greater efficiency of harvesting;
- improved forest management;
- increased growth rates of trees through implementing the
results of tree-breeding and silvicultural research;
- improved management of pests, diseases and fire;
- sustaining appropriate research and technology transfer;
- competitive prices for timber, by ensuring that the industry
is exposed to international and domestic market forces, and by ensuring that policies do
not discriminate in favour of or against the forestry sector;
- influence macro-economic policy to ensure that the forestry
sector is not disadvantaged (e.g. through tariff policies that increase the costs of
transport) and that domestic costs and prices are internationally competitive;
- promote greater efficiency in the processing industry,
through continual improvements in management, ongoing technological innovation, and a well
educated, efficient, and flexible work force, also to be achieved in part through
fostering a competitive environment and avoiding the protection of inefficient firms;
- promote greater recycling of processed materials and the
minimisation and effective utilisation of waste;
- increased afforestation, possibly by many thousands of
hectares over the next 15 - 20 years, to be achieved principally by creating a policy
environment which allows the forestry sector to develop in an environmentally sustainable
manner in equal competition with other sectors, and which facilitates the entry of new
growers into forestry by using surplus land on farms or communal areas, by introducing
agroforestry, and perhaps by large-scale afforestation;
- continue to allow the free import of wood and wood products,
while protecting the domestic industry against dumping, and work with other countries in
southern Africa to create an efficient and productive forestry sector in the region as a
As part of either alternative, South Africa would work with
other Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries to expand plantation
forestry in the region. This could lead to a joint regional strategy for timber supply to
satisfy the needs in South Africa and the region, as well as focusing on the export
advantages enjoyed by Southern Hemisphere countries. This could make a significant
contribution to regional economic development, but would need to address major barriers to
investment, such as lack of security of tenure, the complexities of land tenure, social
impacts of forestry projects, and weak infrastructure.
[ Top ]
Forestry plays a significant role in our economy, partly
through the exports it earns. Satisfying the domestic market could result in major
investments in the near future, unless the products are to be imported. The continued
strong growth in global markets for forest products and attractive export opportunities
for South Africa in the Pacific and Indian Ocean rims can be addressed to the advantage of
our economy. South Africa, like Southern Hemisphere countries, is gaining an advantage in
the global trade in forest products. Given the costs of forestry (use of water and land
impact on biodiversity), there is a strong case to be made that it is in the public
interest to discourage the export of raw materials and to encourage beneficiation. Thus,
forestry could help further economic growth in South Africa. Obviously, the strategy for
meeting our domestic needs should be linked with the policy for forestry's contribution to
In addition to the factors mentioned in Section 2.12, the
new policy should:
- seek to contribute to an environment where business
decisions can be made on the basis of best financial returns, while the full costs and
benefits, economic, social, and environmental, are brought into the reckoning by the
- especially in forestry, ensure that products of the industry
are recognised and certified internationally as coming from environmentally sustainable
- promote the growth of industries which add value to the
primary, secondary and tertiary products from wood and discourage the export of raw
[ Top ]
The challenge for policy is to promote the adding of value
to raw materials at the same time as allowing for the benefits from export of raw
materials and legitimate trade in general. In practical terms this would mean encouraging
a situation in which the bulk of wood is retained for adding value and a smaller portion
The process of adding value requires investment in new
plants or increasing present plant throughput.
The government could play a strategic role with regard to
financing of new capacity through joint ventures with the private sector. Such joint
ventures have been facilitated by the Industrial Development Corporation for many years. A
new pulp mill, while being the most capital-intensive option, would have the added benefit
of increasing competition among pulp producers, thereby relieving the current
concentration of pulp production.
There would be a number of other options through which
government could influence value-addition, some of which would require greater state
compulsion than others.
- through a tax on the export of raw materials such as wood;
this would affect the profitability of such exports and result in more domestic
- convene a co-operative committee to examine options for
adding value to the material - this could be done on a partnership basis and could involve
the voluntary participation of government (including Safcol), various private sector
bodies, and labour; the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) may be
able to facilitate such a process;
- government and industry partners could examine ways of
supporting clusters or loose cooperatives of small firms in their export drives (refer to
the discussion in 2.6.2 on how government can support innovation in small firms);
- the government could leave the issue in the hands of the
private sector and merely appeal to them to beneficiate the wood before export.
Sustainable development assumes that economic growth is
essential to environmental solutions. International codes and the International Tropical
Timber Agreement all aim at establishing that all timber that is traded should be produced
from sustainably managed forests by the year 2000.
The new forest policy would need to recognise the need for
demonstrable sustainability, in terms of three main categories into which elements that
must be sustained can be placed:
[ Top ]
- economic sustainability, i.e. that the yields of forest
products, and the industries and people that rely economically on the forest and its
products can be maintained in future;
- social sustainability, which emphasises that the
requirements of people are met now and in future, especially through policies and projects
that are developed and implemented with the participation of all stakeholders and
therefore are politically sound;
- environmental sustainability, where forestry is practised so
that natural physical and biological processes are maintained.
The current best-practice guidelines applied by
participating companies in South Africa are drawn from international criteria. However,
achieving sustainability requires continuous improvement. For example, the entry of large
numbers of new growers will provide special challenges, both government and the private
sector in their tasks of providing technical and financial support to the growers will
need to ensure that these new operations are sustainable. Furthermore, research indicates
that issues are to hand that will require special attention.
Afforestation causes ecological changes which result in a
plantation ecosystem which is then the system which is assessed for sustainability. In
this regard there are five main issues which have a major influence on the long-term
sustainability of the commercial forestry industry. These are water, site fertility,
conservation of biodiversity, economic issues and social issues.
The policy should address several options:
- government, industry, and other stakeholders should
establish the need for a law for the certification of forests and forestry operations as
being sustainably managed and hence as meeting international criteria for sustainability;
the choice is also needed between the current self-assessment approach, which may be
sufficient in terms of international law and custom, and in which a statutory mechanism is
- effects of afforestation on soil-water resources and soil
fertility and the prospects for sustaining current levels of plantation productivity
through mitigatory management such as fertilisation and mixed plantings need assessment in
the light of commercial and national interest;
- the effects of atmospheric pollution, especially in the
Eastern Transvaal, need to be managed and understood; the relative roles of government and
the private sector in this needs debate and resolution; for example, the private sector
feels that it is government's role to see to the necessary research;
- biodiversity: afforestation diminishes biodiversity locally,
but the practice of forestry contributes significantly to the conservation of biodiversity
and habitats in the country; here again, a choice is needed as to whether government
should work with the private sector in establishing a strategy for the conservation of
habitats and biodiversity in the regions within which afforestation has and will occur, or
whether self-regulation is sufficient;
- economic sustainability: the policy issues addressed in 2.12
- social sustainability issues: the need for a sense of
ownership in forestry among rural South Africans, beginning with resolution of land
issues, and proceeding to greater participation in the forest and forest products industry
and economic stability through diversification of the grower base, of processing
enterprises and of markets; the present style of development and operation is in stark
contrast to the community orientation traditionally associated with the formal and
non-formal farming sector; a change in style from a "forestry industry"
perspective to a "farming perspective" will bring with it the sense of self
regulation associated with ownership and participation and will promote community
Certain detailed concerns need to be addressed also. These
- the limits to expansion of forestry in South Africa need to
be scientifically re-evaluated to ensure that the potential extent of sustainable forestry
is clearly understood;
- commercial forestry needs to be evaluated, relative to
agriculture and alternatives, in terms of the extent and consequences of the use of
chemicals (fertilisers, herbicides, and pesticides) and to the degree to which these may
be replaced with alternative remedies which are economically viable and which would render
forestry more sustainable in ecological terms;
- similarly, the products derived from wood need to be
evaluated over their full cycles from raw material through manufacturing and distribution
to ultimate disposal to assess options for rendering their life-cycles cleaner in terms of
[ Top ]
All forestry workers are now covered by the Labour
Relations Act (to be replaced by the new Labour Relations Bill) and are also subject to
the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.
The Draft Labour Relations Act is an enabling framework. It
creates the parameters for sound industrial relations but it does not relieve the parties
(employers and employees) of the responsibility of creating proper institutions and
procedures to facilitate a constructive relationship.
An important question is whether or not a national forestry
policy should deal with employment and working conditions. One choice would be to leave
job creation, conditions of employment, and wages to the realm of labour market policy and
refer these issues to the Department of Labour. The new Labour Relations Bill would then
be relied upon to deal with the labour issues that have arisen in the industry.
Alternatively, labour questions could be seen as an important aspect of the commercial
forestry industry; the needs and grievances of forestry workers would therefore be
addressed as part of the process of reforming forestry policy.
There are three broad options for regulating wages and
conditions of employment:
- the status quo, in which negotiations are decentralised or
where conditions are set unilaterally, which provides flexibility but does not address
equity concerns nor does it sufficiently protect workers and employers;
- central negotiation which creates a basic minimum wage for
various categories of work, and which sets basic minimum standards of employment, which
provides for equity but may disregard the need for flexibility unless carefully
- wage board regulation in which the government is the final
arbiter of wages and conditions, which may become an important option if the parties are
unable to reach agreement on the system to be followed.
A middle road could be found, by setting up a national
negotiating forum which would aim towards creating a set of basic minimum wage rates for
various jobs in the industry, including for those people working for small growers and for
contractors. The forum could create a series of schedules allowing for differences in pay
in different regions and among different employers. At the same time, such a forum could
set down basic minimum standards for health and safety provisions, for access to certain
benefits such as pension and provident funds, housing, maternity provisions and medical
This model could take account of employers' need for
flexibility and recognise the very real differences between different employers, but at
the same time provide some protection for employees who might otherwise be exploited.
The issue of contractors: a policy for wage
bargaining would go some way towards relieving the conditions of employees who work for
small growers and contractors. However, in relation to contractors (and particularly those
involved in core forestry activities such as planting and harvesting) additional measures
may be necessary. The aim would be to ensure that contractors meet minimum standards with
regard to health and safety provisions, wages and working conditions. One way to do this
would be to establish a national Code of Conduct to which registered contractors must
subscribe. Such a Code could lay down basic provisions which all signatories would be
obliged to meet. Another option would be to charge the large companies who employ the
contractors with the responsibility to ensure that their contractors meet basic conditions
before employing them.
An alternative to a bargaining structure and its provisions
would be to recognize the drive in the industry as a whole toward certain minimum quality
standards, and the contracting policies in certain large companies for managing
contractors. These policies could be promoted among smaller companies and growers, until
most contracts are determined by industry-wide standards.
[ Top ]
Conditions of employment and working conditions and the
ongoing development of overall competence among our employees are central determinants not
only of industry productivity but also of the capacity in firms, large and small, in
government and other institutions, to adapt to change and to remain nationally and
internationally competitive. Providing individual workers with the needed competence,
training and career development allows each to gain access to greater opportunity.
High-class scientists, professionals and technicians are needed to ensure that the whole
sector is soundly directed and managed, and that rapid innovation keep it that way.
The fundamental educational base established through our
school and tertiary educational system determines the basic competencies available for
employment in forestry. However, education in South Africa has not developed the talents
of our nation. Until this situation is redressed, affirmative action within forestry firms
and institutions will be needed to accelerate the realisation of available talent.
The new policy would need to:
- identify and pursue options for a common approach between
government, the private sector workers and the tertiary education sector to address future
needs for qualified people and for the retraining and advancement of present employees,
especially from the former homelands institutions;
- employ consensus 'incentives' or regulation for the
recognition of skills acquired by workers in industry training programmes, to improve
upward mobility and flexibility;
- establish transparency regarding affirmative action
programmes to facilitate rapid progress toward full realisation of available talent in
forestry, through recognition, moral suasion, and incentives.
[ Top ]
Most of the natural forests of South Africa are on State
land, largely conserved through the Forest Act or through national and provincial
Two issues are important here. The first is the delegation
of conservation responsibilities for these forests, where this responsibility is currently
shared among the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, the National Parks Board and
the provincial authorities, and Safcol. The second is the need to shift toward
participatory management of natural forests.
The policy should seek to retain all forests demarcated as
State Forests or proclaimed in other conservation laws. Recent inventories of the forests
need to be evaluated to establish the need, if any, for further setting aside of the
forests. The provisions in the Forest Act for the protection of trees and forests outside
demarcated State Forest should be relinquished in favour of equivalent provisions in other
conservation law. Clarity is needed regarding the delegation of management
responsibilities to Safcol and the Provinces, as well as standards of management and their
assessment by central government. The best option appears to be for central government to
limit its direct involvement to the formulation and oversight of policy, and the
monitoring and evaluation of the state of the forests.
Participatory management of natural forests would involve
local-level plans appropriate to the needs and aspirations of the communities who
neighbour upon the forests. This management would be similar in principle to that for
woodlands, except that most of the forests are in the hands of the State, and this would
influence the nature of the partnership with communities.
The woodlands, being extensive, need to be conserved not
only for their biodiversity but also for their utility. Adequate policy and strategy for
their conservation would need to begin with a proper assessment of their status, starting
with the inventory recently completed through the Biomass Initiative.
Clearly, the woodlands in National Parks and other
statutory reserves should remain; here too the need is for greater participation in their
management by stakeholding communities. Resource management areas described in Chapter 4
(Appendix 1), would need legal recognition where this is not already the case. Sustainable
management with conserved areas, whether managed by parks or forestry authorities,
requires approaches based on participative management. A continuum is available, from a
situation where the authority is the senior partner in the participative scheme, to the
extreme where the community manages the resources as common property, with authorities
merely providing services, such as in the current resource management areas. The option of
authorities managing on their own, appears seldom to be realistic.
Outside the parks, natural woodland is frequently degraded.
These degraded areas, once assessed, would need plans for rehabilitation, often best
achieved through the natural regenerative capacity of the woodland. Once rehabilitated,
management could proceed as outlined below.
The extensive woodlands in good condition must necessarily
be managed by the communities or farmers who occupy and use them currently. Government
lacks the capacity to manage all forests and woodlands. Experience elsewhere hasshown that
woodland management by communities and households, influenced by local leadership, can
have profound beneficial effects on the status of the resource. Detailed policy issues
include the following:
- land (and resource) tenure issues need to be addressed
clearly by forest policy and law, particularly in regard to the links between tenure and
participative planning and management; land tenure policies should include long-term,
inheritable tenure in communal land, as well as redistributed land;
- recognise the value of participative management in enhancing
the prospects for woodland conservation and management through the inclusion of detailed
reference to and meeting of local needs, and maintaining or restoring the sense of
ownership among communities;
- strengthening local institutions by, for example:
- providing the framework (including the legislative
framework) for customary, community-based and State institutions to operate and derive
benefits from the management of resources;
- development of management and planning capacity within such
institutions, especially when the old arrangements have collapsed under pressure of
demography and political force
- build around existing natural resource management
institutions; strategies for extension services should be explicitly focused on building
on existing practices;
- particular attention needs to be paid to making the benefits
of areas protected for the preservation of biological diversity apparent and real to
- setting, applying and monitoring of sustainable harvesting
of forest and woodland products such as timber, fuelwood and non-timber forest products
such as fruit, game and medicinal products;
- a major contributor to over-exploitation of forests and
woodlands is the undervaluing and underpricing of forest products; forest policy should at
least ensure the evaluation ofproduct pricing, especially the products for use or
consumption beyond the community or land owner;
- the need for educating and informing farmers and other land
users and managers and communities about policies, options, and procedures for managing
natural forests and woodlands;
- the potential for forestry to contribute to environmental
improvement through replanting of irreversibly degraded land and rehabilitated mine land,
as well as for the mitigation of acid-mine drainage through increasing evaporation.
[ Top ]
Technology and information are now widely recognised by
governments and firms as one of the primary factors in development, together with capital
and labour. In a competitive environment such as that in which South African forestry now
finds itself, ongoing technological innovation is a prerequisite to sustain a competitive
sector. Innovation will also provide ways of reducing the environmental and social costs
The present policy involves direct government support to
the science councils through the parliamentarian grant, for capacity creation in research,
and for tertiary institutions through subsidies and grants for expertise creation. Fiscal
incentives are available to companies which invest in research. Government and the private
sector contract with suppliers, nationally and internationally, to supply their needs, or,
in the case of companies, levy themselves to create a pool of funds to support
institutions such as the ICFR. This policy could be sustained.
However, various factors indicate the need for change.
- the decline in overall investment in research and technology
development and transfer, especially in government;
- the lack of a sound base of knowledge and expertise for
- the need for access to research and development services by
small growers and businesses;
- probable changes in the science and technology policy for
the country as a whole;
- the weak relationship between government, the private
sector, civil society and the research institutions;
- the breakdown of many elements of the extension services,
and the options offered by alternatives.
Options available are for a closer and mutually supportive
relationship between government, private sector, and institutions, for government to
establish a clear view on the funding of research for the public good, and for incentives,
credits or subsidies to support communities, small growers and businesses to acquire
research services and expert advice.
[ Top ]
Communities concerned with forestry need to have the
information and understanding required to handle their own affairs when participating in
forestry-related decisions. Some relevant issues are:
- government needs to ensure that appropriate material is
available to supplement curriculum material in all schools in forestry districts;
- forestry households often constitute communities remote from
towns and settlements: there is a need for holistic approach to human resource development
in forestry areas;
- wide dissemination of information on forestry events,
issues, and trends to allow educated and informed participation by the wider public as
well as affected communities is required.
Social acceptance of forestry, and of the ongoing change,
will be needed to allow necessary expansion of the sector as well as to ensure its
sustainability. This needs a deep understanding of the policy options and issues among
members of affected communities and constituencies, whether urban or rural. Education,
broadly, of all interested members of communities will be needed to empower them to
participate in the process of change, and to win the hearts and minds in the drive to
ensure sustainable natural resource management in South Africa.
Incentives for adult education to support affirmative
action as well as the capacity among families of employees to improve their quality of
life need assessment, and, where necessary, improvement.
[ Top ]
Most of the land suitable for afforestation in the eleven
countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) falls outside South Africa.
Only 0.29% of the total SADC area of 700 million hectares is covered by plantations. Of
the 2 million hectares of plantations in the SADC, 65% currently occurs in South Africa.
It is thus an option to meet future additional timber
requirements for South Africa by increasing afforestation in other SADC countries. A
strategy for the region would need to be developed if this option was to be viable and
sustainable. This would include a strategy for trade in wood and forest products.
Issues that would need to be addressed in a regional
- investment barriers like weak infrastructure in terms of
communications and transport;
- lack of capacity in forestry management and research;
- criteria for sustainable development;
- improving harvesting and processing capacity and quality;
- ensuring that the poorer countries obtain sufficient volumes
of timber at affordable prices and do not lose out to the wealthier countries;
- standardised grading rules to ensure quality timber is
produced and product standards are kept;
- reciprocal arrangements to ensure open access to the markets
of the region;
- joint strategies for exports to the Pacific and Indian Ocean
Current SADC institutions need to be developed to address
these issues. In addition, proposals for new institutions, such as a Southern African
Timber Association for overseeing product standards, need to be evaluated and supported
[ Top ]
Membership of the National Forestry Forum is to be widely
representative of all parties interested in forestry, the forest environment and forest
"Forestry" is to embrace indigenous forest,
commercial forest plantations, woodlots and woodland. The Forum is to be advisory to the
Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry as well as a forum for general discussion.
Organisations are to be invited at the discretion of the Minister and are to be
represented by individuals. There will be no laid down percentage representation for any
sector and the Forum will aim at consensus rather than a vote. The Chairperson, who will
be a Ministerial appointment, will convey to the Minister, in writing, whatever range of
advice and opinion becomes evident at meetings of the Forum.
The agenda for meetings will embrace matters referred to
the Council by the Minister, by members, or by any interested party, at the Chairman's
discretion; the range of topics will be very broad.
It should be noted that it is not the intention that the
Forum should be a statutory body, and that membership will be voluntary. The Minister has
undertaken to regard any unanimous recommendation from the Forum as binding.
At its final meeting, the now defunct Forestry Council
suggested to the Minister that the forum might be made up of representatives of the
following spheres of interest:
- commercial forestry;
- research and education;
- government departments;
- rural development forestry;
- organisations concerned with environmental issues;
- the Southern African Development Community;
- organised labour;
- Provincial Parks Boards;
- Provincial governments;
- agricultural organisations.
The Forestry Forum would need to give content to its role
through convening and proceeding with its business.
[ Top ]
The issues and options faced in formulating forestry policy
clearly indicate a need for a framework for action. A model for such a framework exists in
the series of National Forestry Action Plans recognised by international bodies and
developed by most countries in the world. National Forestry Action Plans were developed to
respond more effectively to the accelerating loss of forests. They are an action programme
to identify the priority problems and corresponding proposals for action.
This plan would not be a blueprint, but rather:
- a set of directions given to the institutions of the new
forest policy, based upon adequate analysis of the issues and concerns relevant to the
- reflect the common vision developed through the
participation of government with the various affected parties;
- show how the objectives of the forest policy are intended to
- give guidance to the companies, farmers, and communities
engaged in forestry;
- clarify government arrangements to give effect to policy.
An alternative model is a process in which issues are
identified by stakeholders and forwarded to a Forestry Forum. The Forestry Forum would
investigate the issues by contracting research and propose options for handling the issues
to the Minister whose ministry would then develop the action plans.
[ Top ]
The purpose of this document is to solicit public opinion.
Policy changes can affect hundreds, if not thousands of people. In the spirit of the
Reconstruction and Development Programme, all those interested and affected by forest
policy need to contribute to the formulation of the new policy.
Comments on the issues, policy options, and strategies
highlighted in this document are invited from all interested parties. This comment should,
among other things, emphasise what policy options government should choose to pursue, and
how policy should be implemented.
Comment is not needed on the background information, unless
it will add new information to support a case for new policy options, or support arguments
for or against options identified in this document.
The Department will receive and digest comment on policy
for the period of eight weeks to the end of August 1995. After this, the drafting of a
White Paper will begin, with the aim of tabling it in Parliament by the middle of October.
This White Paper will be a statement of government policy
at the time. It will state government's vision and aims for the forest sector, and will
indicate how these are to be attained.
The White Paper will determine and guide what government
bodies and others will do to turn policy into reality. Certainly, there will be further
debate as the implications of the policy become clear, and as experience, evaluation of
the consequences of the policy, and research teach us about better options. The views
which arise will then influence the improvement of the forest policy in future.
Please send all comments to:
Comment may also be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing date: 31 August 1995
This document is a discussion document only. Its objective
is to stimulate debate and discussion. The document does not attempt to set out a
preferred policy standpoint. No statement in this document should be construed as official
4. Appendix - the State of Forestry in
South Africa Today
This section provides background information to the
policy debate and a useful resource on forestry and the forestry industry in South Africa.
[ Top ]
4.1.1 Introduction: who are the stakeholders?
All South Africans have a stake in forestry in South
Africa. We all benefit, or should benefit, from products such as construction timber,
paper, mining timber, fuelwood and other products that satisfy our material needs. We all
benefit from the environmental values of our forests and woodlands. Shareholders of the
400 or more companies which have invested in forestry are also important stakeholders. But
the people mostinvolved in forestry are rural people and the workers in the forest
4.1.2 The need for rural development
Rural people constitute 40% (about 16 million) of the total
population of South Africans, and they are predominantly women and children. Average
income earned by rural households is much less than that earned by urban households. In
1988/9, 51% of African households earned an average monthly income of less than R400.
Rural unemployment in the Eastern Cape is 56.3% and in the
Northern Transvaal is 50.7% - compared with 16.4% in Gauteng and 4.64% in the Western
Cape. More than 80% of rural people in the Eastern Cape, 61.7% in the Northern Transvaal
and 69.4% in KwaZulu/Natal have no tap water in or near their homes. A lack of electricity
affects 92.9% of rural residents in the Eastern Cape, 90.7% in the Northwest, 86.7% in
Northern Transvaal and 77.1% in the Free State. There are disproportionately high levels
of unemployment for women, particularly in rural areas.
Women are especially important among our rural people.
Women between the ages of 16 and 65 outnumber men by 40%. They are often the effective
heads of households in the countryside, and bear the major burden for maintaining the
wellbeing of those households.
Rural areas have a history of restricted resources, forced
settlement, lack of democratic control of development, poor education and in white farming
areas and forestry plantations, inadequate protection of labour rights. These are the
issues to be addressed through rural development in the RDP. Forestry has an important
contribution to make to integrated rural development.
4.1.3 Rural energy
One-third of households in South Africa are estimated to
rely on fuelwood. Women in these households often walk great distances to fetch firewood.
Average time spent this way is estimated conservatively at five hours per household per
week. Use of this kind is estimated at about 11 million tons of wood per year, of which
about 6.6 million tons is estimated to be harvested from natural woodlands. The amount of
wood consumed for household needs equates nearly to that used in the formal forestry
industry, which provides sales of R8 billion per year.
The motivation for social forestry begins with the
perceived need to supply energy for the great majority of rural households who rely on
wood or other biomass for this purpose. But wood is just one of the forms of energy
available, and many households have already substituted wood with other fuels, such as
paraffin. This is especially so in districts where wood is scarce and expensive. Many
forms of renewable energy are available, at falling prices. Wood fires usually pollute the
home, and cause much disease. Households will therefore make choices on economics and
preference, and wood need not necessarily be supplied everywhere. Woodlots are offered as
the solution for social forestry, but wood from woodlots have been shown to become more
valuable for other purposes than fuelwood and the intended beneficiaries find they cannot
afford it. Woodlot programmes sometimes cause more problems than they solve.
However, alternatives to woodfuel are not readily nor soon
available. Rural households spend excessive time on collecting wood because there is no
way of earning money to buy fuel. The current, massive household electrification programme
will first deliver to urban communities, and will require decades to reach the majority of
families in the countryside. In the mean time, sources of wood are being depleted.
Social forestry and wood energy programmes need to be
designed within the larger framework of district-level plans for energy supply. Ways of
reducing demand for wood, by the marketing of the many effective designs of stove
available, must also enter the equation - these pay the extra dividend of improving
hygiene in the home.
[ Top ]
4.1.4 Working in forestry
Employment in the forestry and wood processing
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry estimates
formal employment in forestry at about 141,000 people, of whom nearly 80% are in the
Eastern Transvaal and KwaZulu/Natal. This estimate may be too high - other statistics
suggest about 80,000 forestry workers. An estimated 121,000 people are employed in those
industries which use wood as a primary input. Therefore, between 200,000 and 260,000
people probably find direct employment in the forests and the processing industries.
About 40% of these are employed in sawmilling, 30% in pulp
and paper manufacturing, and the balance in secondary processing. In addition there are
those employed by the smaller primary converters such as in making poles, matches, and
Labour intensity varies greatly in the processing sectors.
Sawmilling employs about one worker for every 80 cubic metres processed; in pulp and
paper, the ratio is one worker for every 250 cubic metres.
These figures are uncertain, but the forestry and forest
products industry is a major employer and of great importance in the South African labour
Current conditions in forestry - wages, employment
conditions and bargaining procedures
Average wage rates for the large companies range from R570
to R2,400 per month. Unskilled workers in these firms earn R570-R600 per month,
semi-skilled earn R880-R920, and skilled R2,200-R2,400. Only 5% of workers fall into the
No comprehensive figures are available for employees of
small growers and forestry contractors.
Trade union members report that in some areas, wages are as
low as R200 per month. On average, the small employers probably pay 50% to 70% of the
wages paid by the large companies. This would mean that for the unskilled jobs, the
average pay is about R300 to R400 per month. The South African Agriculture, Plantation and
Allied Workers' Union (SAAPAWU) argues that no employee in the sector should earn less
than R750 per month before benefits, to ensure a reasonable minimum standard of living.
In addition to the cash wage, most of the large companies
also provide a range of benefits including pensions, housing, subsidised meals, medical
facilities and schooling. The Forest Owners Association estimates the costs to the
employers of providing these benefits at about R250 per worker per month. Few small
employers, including sub-contractors, provide these benefits.
Other employment conditions also vary from one employer to
the next. One of these conditions is training (see section 4.5).
Occupational safety and health
Forestry is often a dangerous occupation, and, since many
tasks are performed outdoors, workers frequently experience difficult working conditions.
Management of safety and working environments is a special need.
All forestry companies, of necessity, comply with the
Occupational Safety and Health Act, and all major companies participate in the NOSA
programme. Safety standards have steadily improved in many companies, including Safcol.
Nevertheless, workers in the industry express
ongoing concern regarding health and safety provisions.
Continuous improvement is needed; there is a long way to go in ensuring uniform minimum
health and safety standards in the forests and the wood processing industries.
Trade union rights
There is also an uneven application of trade union rights.
Some employers have recognised trade unions for many years, and others since legislation
has included forest workers. Among some, however, there is still a reluctance to accept
trade unions' and other worker rights.
There has been a strong trend in recent years towards using
contractors in forestry operations. This includes transport, planting and harvesting,
although each company differs in the work that it is subcontracting. About 15,000 people
are estimated to be employed by forestry contractors.
Problems have been experienced by both forestry companies
and workers as a result of this trend including:
- poor quality of work by contractors, related to being
under-equipped, lacking experience, and employing workers without the necessary skills
- failure to adhere to accepted operating standards;
- payment of unacceptably low wages;
- insecurity among workers employed by contractors;
- social problems in some of the forest villages.
Measures taken to address these problems include:
- establishment of the South African Forestry Contractors
Association (SAFCA), whose 194 members include most main contractors; SAFCA operates a
grading system, reflecting the quality of work of each of its members, negotiates group
rates on insurance and facilitates access to training services;
- companies are working at improving the standard of
contractor work by selecting contractors according to quality of work, requiring minimum
wages and employment conditions, and pressing for improved skills and equipment.
[ Top ]
The major companies have developed comprehensive policies
for managing their relationships with contractors.
Contractors tend to employ labour-intensive methods. The
trend for contracting has probably helped to maintain employment levels in the industry.
Forestry contracting offers an important avenue for
creation of new black enterprises in rural areas, as is already happening. The promotion
of small business is an important part of South Africa's national economic strategy. On
the other hand, however, satisfactory working conditions and human resource management
must be achieved if these businesses are to be sustainable.
4.1.5 Land claims in forestry areas
Claims for restitution by the victims of forced removal
(e.g. in the Tsitsikamma, or in the St Lucia area) are to be treated through the
mechanisms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994. The Act provides that people who
were prevented from retaining or obtaining rights to land as a result of a racially
discriminatory law shall be entitled to restitution of the land they lost. This includes
any registered or unregistered right (and may include customary rights) or simply the
right arising from beneficial occupation for a continuous period of not less than 10 years
prior to dispossession. Claimants are assisted by Regional Land Claims Commissioners. Only
where disputes cannot be resolved, are they referred to the Land Claims Court for
adjudication. In all cases the settlements reached are reviewed by the Court and the
results confirmed by Court Orders. Certain State Forest land, and State land in Safcol's
hands, as well as privately owned forests, is likely to become subject to restitution
Other claims, such as of ownership or security of tenure by
labour tenants where their prior rights have been jeopardised by sale of the land to a
forestry company (for example, in the Eastern Transvaal), or claims of need arising from
land shortages and lack of alternatives (e.g. land invasion and high population density of
newcomers or squatters on forestry land), are not addressed through the restitution
Prompted by pressure from labour tenants, various forestry
companies have developed innovative negotiations underlying claims of need and long-term
occupation (Box 4.1).
|Box 4.1 Land claims and disputes: current initiatives
in forestry areas
Progress in resolving land
disputes in forestry through negotiations have not arisen solely as a result of new
legislation or changes in government policy. Prompted by claims to forestry land made by
labour tenants communities, and supported by NGOs, forestry companies have individually
entered negotiation to address such claims, aiming also in the process to find solutions
to problems of instability which threatened company business.
HL&H took the lead with the new approach. Senior
management agreed to negotiate with labour tenants on their land whom they had previously
attempted to evict, recognising that the tenants had valid land claims based on moral and
equity considerations, not rights established under the law as it existed at that time
(1993). The company indicated its preparedness to transfer ownership rights to labour
tenants, but only within the constraints of company profitability.
Labour tenants put forward proposals for land other than
that already afforested. Tenants also suggested a constitution which imposed much stricter
control on numbers of people in the settlement area than the company had ever been able to
introduce. The community developed detailed and extensive rules and proposals in respect
of controls on fire, grazing and fencing. As prospective owners of the land, their
priorities changed from perpetually trying to outwit the company by breaking its rules, to
making their own rules in order to preserve the land asset for themselves and future
Mondi has employed a similar policy to resolve long-term
conflicts and disputes. They began by acknowledging the rights and needs of people who
already have homesteads on Mondi land. Where, in the past, every concession was wrung from
the company in an adversarial dispute of counter-claims and mutual denial of the other
party's rights, Mondi now explains the constraints and parameters within which the company
can negotiate and invites the land claimants to put forward proposals within these
This process puts a great burden on both the claimants and
the companies. They have to establish new processes of negotiation, often in a context of
previous animosity and mistrust and in a context where the negotiating parties have very
different kinds and levels of skills and life experience. Furthermore, both parties have
to contend with inappropriate laws such as the Sub-division of Agricultural Land Act and
other laws which make the group ownership systems proposed by the claimants difficult to
Sappi follows a simpler route, that of making large areas
of land available to the Eastern Transvaal Government on condition that the people who are
then granted land rights, receive government housing subsidies. While there is much to
recommend this strategy in areas where there are land occupations based on need alone, it
may not sufficiently recognise the claims of labour tenant families.
These approaches have in common a preparedness by forestry
companies to contribute not just time, effort and initiative in attempting to resolve and
stabilise land disputes, but also to contribute land as an integral part of the solution.
This is a realistic policy if viewed from the perspective that by donating land towards
achieving legitimacy and long-term stability in local property relations, companies manage
to secure and protect those areas of forestry land which are crucial to their operations.
Furthermore, because of the Sub-division of Agricultural Land Act and other
"market" constraints, companies often in the past had to purchase blocks of
land, including areas not suited to forestry. It is now relatively "cheap" for
them to use such land towards a long-term solution to ongoing and endemic land disputes.
[ Top ]
4.2.1 Natural forests
South Africa has never been rich in natural forests.
Climate and the age-old effect of fires have confined natural forests to about 0.2% of
South Africa's land area (see Table 1.1). The small extent of natural forest has been
depleted especially by European settlers during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
and by people forced to settle in the former homelands in the twentieth century, when
serious loss of forests occurred on some areas. Overall, however, much of our natural
forest has survived.
Our largest natural forests occur in the Knysna region.
Except for the forests of the Amatolas and Woodbush, forests elsewhere are small and
scattered. In the former Transkei, no forests are larger than 1 800 ha; the forests in the
mountains are all smaller than 700 ha.
The largest areas of natural forest occur in the Eastern
Cape (about 140,000 ha) and in KwaZulu/Natal (about 91,200 ha). This is followed by the
Western Cape (about 60,000 ha) and the Northern Province and Eastern Transvaal (about
35,000 ha). Most of these areas are owned by the State, which since April 1994 also
includes the forest areas in the former homelands. Only in KwaZulu/Natal is a substantial
portion of natural forest in private ownership.
The history of policy, conservation, and use of our forests
is illustrated by way of example in Box 2.1.
Small amounts of timber are harvested from the forests of
Knysna and the Eastern Cape. The annual incremental yield from all these forests is
probably about 600,000 to 700,000 cubic metres per year, of which only about 4,000 cubic
metres is harvested. This is a negligible amount relative to the country's need for wood.
Currently, the greatest value of these forests is for environmental protection,
biodiversity, and ecotourism.
[ Top ]
Vast areas of woodlands occur in the semi-arid to sub-humid
parts of the country. Although humans have been using woodlands for thousands of years,
perhaps depleting resources locally, it was not until the policies of the twentieth
century took hold, that overcrowding in the former homelands resulted in rapid degradation
in many parts.
Today, the condition of woodlands conserved in national
parks, statutory nature reserves and privately managed conservation areas is generally
good. However, approximately 65% of the former homelands are located within the woodland
regions. Elsewhere, white commercial farmers have significantly reduced the extent of
woodlands through bush-clearing for agriculture. Generally, though, woodlands used for
stock farming, are in reasonable to good condition, although in some areas bush
encroachment has transformed the woodlands to thickets.
Although the productivity of savanna woodlands is generally
low, about 0.1 to 2 cubic metres per ha per annum, the aggregate wood production is large,
estimated at 10 or more million cubic metres per year. This production still plays an
important part in the rural economy.
4.2.3 The use and management of natural forests and
Conservation of natural forests and woodlands
A large proportion of South Africa's natural forests and
woodlands occur in statutory reserves. About 182,000 ha of the country's natural forests,
56% of the total, are on demarcated State forests, and more occur in conservation areas,
including most of the significant mountain forests, the lowland forests, and Indian Ocean
coastal belt forests. On the whole, mountain forests have been little depleted over time.
Coastal forest, on the other hand, have been severely depleted, mainly through
Although most forests are statutorily protected, many
people from adjacent communities have traditional-use rights to forests. New ways for
joint management will need to be applied. Increasing demands for medicinal materials from
forests deplete the tree populations; ways of supplying this demand, including
domestication of the target species, are required.
About 7% of the country's woodlands are well conserved in a
range of national parks and nature reserves. A larger area of conserved woodlands is in
privately owned, proclaimed conservation areas, maintained for ecotourism purposes.
Some of the woodlands in the former homelands were included
in reserves, but these were few. Conservation of woodlands in these areas will depend on
ways of managing the ecosystems jointly with interested and affected communities.
The value of indigenous forests and woodlands to
Trees and tree products of the woodlands and forests play
an important and often under-estimated role for rural communities, and are central to
their lives. Rural people use natural forests and especially woodlands for many purposes.
- fuelwood, the major source of energy for cooking, lighting
- timber for construction material and wood carving;
- fruit, an important dietary supplement, and sap for brewing
of beer and wine;
- bark for making ropes and weaving;
- medicinal products such as bark, bulbs, leaves and roots;
- honey production;
- harvesting of insects,mushrooms and other edible plants;
- grass for thatching and weaving, and for grazing cattle.
The economic value of forests and especially of woodlands
to communities often equates to a significant proportion of the income of rural
[ Top ]
Management of woodland and forest resources on communal
Most woodlands in the rural areas of the former homelands
are communally owned. Under the old Bantu Laws and Administration Act, the use and
management of natural resources was assigned to Tribal Authorities. Each former homeland
then developed its own set of regulations. Generally, woodland management was governed at
the level of the Tribal Authority, although some national regulations could overrule the
Tribal Authority. Because of the confused administration, controls
did not work, leading to confusion and inadequate resource
management. This arrangement will change in the new political dispensation, though
experience elsewhere has shown that customary arrangements for the ownership and use of
woodland resources remain important.
Management of woodlands within communal areas is closely
linked to land tenure. Communal land falls into four categories, each with its own rules
for resource management: the area around the household; the area of agricultural fields;
the grazing area; and resource management areas, which have been established in a few
Broadly speaking, the land holders of homestead areas,
cultivated fields and grazing areas have access to and control of the resources in these
areas. Tribal Authorities may, however, impose restrictions on resource use, such as for
example on the harvesting of live wood (see Box 4.2).
|Box 4.2 Some restrictions on the harvesting of live
wood which may be imposed by Tribal Authorities
- Restricted, or no harvesting of certain trees such as those
with valuable fruit, timber trees, or large trees. Traditional beliefs and taboos also
govern the harvesting of trees and prevent the harvesting of certain species.
- Cutting must be done so that it will promote coppicing and
will prevent the tree from rotting.
- The communal area may be divided into blocks for harvesting
with certain areas being closed for harvesting.
- Harvesting may be restricted to specific times of the year.
Some communities have demarcated and proclaimed resource
management areas for sustainable resource management to the benefit to the community as a
whole. Pilot projects are in progress in the former Bophuthatswana, KaNgwane and KwaZulu.
These areas are mostly managed as game reserves, with tourism as an additional revenue.
Access is restricted. Such areas are often managed jointly with a parks board, or
conservation authority. All members of the community have equitable access to income
generated and to resources such as wood, thatching and meat.
In spite of the traditional control of harvesting of
natural products, woodlands have been overutilised in many areas. Increasing population
pressure, coupled with the eroding of traditional structures of authority and beliefs, has
resulted in breakdowns in the controls on natural resource utilization. In areas such as
rural KaNgwane, the woodlands are still in a relatively good condition, but in others most
of the woody plants have been removed or are being heavily utilised. In much of
KwaZulu/Natal the controls of cutting of live trees have lapsed and some large forests
have disappeared as a result.
Social forestry refers to forestry applied to satisfy local
economic, social and environmental needs, and involves community participation in the
design and implementation of projects. Social forestry includes farm forestry,
agroforestry, community or village planting, woodlots and woodland management by rural
people, as well as tree-planting in urban and peri-urban areas.
From the late nineteenth century onwards, authorities
implemented programmes for woodlot establishment in the former homeland districts. Despite
the continuing demand for fuelwood and wood for other household purposes, only about
62,000 ha of woodlots have been established in these districts (Box 4.3).
[ Top ]
|Box 4.3 The historical phases in the growth of the
South African forestry industry
From about 1876
to 1920, experimental plantings by the State in the Knysna area and the Eastern Cape, and
early work in the Northern and Eastern Transvaal gradually led to large afforestation. Net
annual afforestation amounted to about 10,000 ha from 1900 to 1920.
From about 1920 to 1950, about 20,000 ha per year was
planted to forestry. This afforestation was still mainly by the State, but farmers and
mining houses entered the business to produce wattle for tan bark and eucalypts for mining
timber. Many forest farmers from this period continue today. Government afforestation in
the Cape and the Eastern Transvaal was accelerated through a public works programme to
create employment after the depression. Hans Merensky Holdings and HL&H Mining Timber
were established in this period, but other companies have not survived. The State
established sawmills and pole treatment plants; private sector processing capacity was
After the Second World War, large companies entered
forestry. South African Forest Investments afforested large areas in the Eastern
Transvaal, and was later incorporated into the Mondi Paper Company, formed in 1967. The
domestic market for pulp and paper led to the growth of corporations such as Mondi Paper
Co and Sappi, with rapid import replacement. Afforestation reached a maximum net rate of
about 36,000 ha per annum between 1965 and 1975, when the afforested area grew to about
1,250,000 ha. Growth continued into the 1980s, when the corporations acquired large areas
of farmland, bought out smaller companies, and made huge investments in such facilities as
the Sappi pulp and paper factory at Ngodwana and that of Mondi Paper Co at Richards Bay.
Afforestation was mainly with eucalypts, driven by the growing international demand for
short-fibre pulp. The pulp and paper industry became externally focused, and exports grew.
The corporate business sector entered a period of consolidation and vertical integration.
Government closed certain of its sawmills, and managed other mills as partners with the
The last phase, from about the late 1980s to now, has been
complex. Afforestation rates have fallen, mainly due to increasing competition for
suitable land, relatively low roundwood prices, and limitations imposed by the
afforestation permit system. Extensive outgrower schemes have been launched (though their
aggregate production is low - see later). Investment in processing capacity has been high,
but less than before, the most significant being the expansion to Sappi's Saiccor plant in
KwaZulu/Natal. South African corporations have invested overseas, growing internationally
by acquisition. Domestic markets have been depressed; output from the formal sawmilling
sector has declined steadily for 15 years. Net afforestation rates have fallen to about
6,000 ha per annum on average. In this period, Safcol was established as a State
corporation and homeland forests have reverted to central government. Companies have begun
to look to afforestation in neighbouring countries.
The absence of trees in grassland areas, with their severe
winters, which caused the planting of trees for shelterbelts and as multipurpose woodlots
on commercial farms (Box 4.4). The extent of these is unknown, though satellite surveys of
part of the Eastern Transvaal indicate that woodlots may equate to 10% or more of the
afforested area in the province. Many of these farm woodlots are neglected, and over-aged.
Many are of wattle, which create problems through the invasion of neighbouring habitats.
During wood shortages in the 1980s, Sappi bought in large volumes of eucalypt pulpwood
from these sources for its Enstra plant.
|Box 4.4 The principal elements of social forestry in
Use and management of woodlands
in traditional systems.
This has been described in section 4.2.3. Woodlots for
rural communities. In districts where land is communally owned, especially in the former
Transkei and KwaZulu, government authorities established small plantations around natural
forests (often, at least initially, through negotiation with traditional authorities), to
create alternative resources for the supply of wood for households. These usually passed
to the control of the traditional authority and, for various reasons, became neglected.
Extension efforts from about 1900 onwards led to extensive
planting of windbreaks and woodlots of pine, eucalypts and wattle, most prominently in the
grassland districts of the country.
Several projects initiated by corporate business are listed
in section 4.4.2.
Trial nurseries have been established in the 1990s at
villages (communal), schools, and individual enterprises throughout South Africa in the
Biomass Initiative of the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, working mainly through
NGOs, and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; many proved unsustainable, but
markets for trees in peri-urban areas are evidently sustaining financially viable
nurseries established by NGOs.
Limited projects of various kinds such as trials of
Leucaena leucocephala by the (now) Agricultural Research Council, and by the Department of
Water Affairs and Forestry with communities in the Northern Transvaal, and others in the
Eastern Cape. The Department has supported an extensive array of trails of new species
throughout the country since about 1985. NGOs working in rural development have fostered
the use of fruit trees in household gardens and fields. Limited progress has, however,
been made in extending agroforestry in South Africa.
Agroforestry, a form of social forestry which refers to a
mix of trees, crops and even livestock grazing on a single plot, has been little practised
in South Africa (Box 4.4), in contrast to many other parts of the world. Nurseries, from
which to supply the seedlings for this mix of crops, tend to be part of the operations of
the corporate forestry sector, larger-scale commercial nursery firms, or are in State
hands (in the previous homeland forestry institutions). Tree seedlings are seldom raised
at the village level and sold in local markets, as is the case in countries such as Kenya.
There have been several phases in and forms of social
forestry in South Africa (see Box 4.4), but, overall, social forestry has had little
consequence in the country. Several factors have evidently caused this failure:
- past land and agricultural policies hampered the development
of social forestry projects;
- there were no proper arrangements for ownership of woodlot
projects by local people, or ownership arrangements were inappropriate;
- support and extension services to the emergent social
forestry farmers were weak;
- many State-imposed rural development schemes tended to focus
on a single, large project such as irrigation schemes, instead of implementing projects
within the framework of integrated rural development;
- training institutions were slow to adopt modern approaches
to rural development, including such methods as participatory resource assessment and
planning; trainees qualified without the benefits of these new paradigms; this weak
education, together with ineffective institutions, severely undermined the efficacy of
[ Top ]
4.4.1 The contribution of commercial forestry to the
Today, the forestry and forest products industry (i.e. all
those industries using wood and wood products as raw material) is a significant part of
the South African economy, contributing about 2% to the GDP, and earning about R1 billion
in net foreign exchange. Its relative contribution to the economy has grown steadily in
the past 20 years. The many jobs involved in these industries mean that over one million
mainly rural people depend on this industry directly. A recent study of employment
generated by the Ngodwana Pulp Mill and the forests which support it indicates that up to
six jobs are created for every one in the industry.
Although commercial forestry began with government
projects, the main investment has been by the private sector, initially by the mining
sector, but later by companies focusing on other markets. The largest part of this
industry has proved a highly profitable use of natural resources, although the profits
come at an environmental and social cost.
The pulp and paper sector has proved especially successful.
This is because the companies employed modern technology and improved continually, both in
the plantations and in the manufacturing process, and moved quickly to an export-led
strategy when production exceeded domestic demand. This success contrasts strongly with
the sawmilling sector, which had a protectionist strategy, where exports were slow to
develop, innovation has been weak, and the industry has declined.
[ Top ]
Plantation forests grew rapidly during the period from
about 1920 to 1985, slowing recently and culminating at about 1.39 million hectares (see
Box 4.3). Currently, 75% of plantations are owned by large companies and Safcol, the
recently established State company.
The State, other than Safcol, now has just 11% of the
total. There are also many farmers who participate in forestry. Of these farmers, 1,050
are growers registered with the South African Timber Growers Association (SATGA), who now
own 212,000 hectares; these numbers and share of the planted area have declined recently.
Plantation forests are located mainly in the Northern and
Eastern Transvaal, KwaZulu/Natal, Eastern Cape, and Western Cape Provinces, where climatic
conditions are suitable, with the largest plantation areas in the Eastern Transvaal
(571,000 ha) and KwaZulu/Natal (529,000 ha). Overall, of the planted areas, 53% is pines,
39% is eucalypts and 8% is wattle. Departmental statistics indicate that the most land
suitable for further afforestation is in KwaZulu/Natal, the Eastern Transvaal and the
Productivity of these forests is relatively high, averaging
about 20 cubic metres per ha per annum. They currently yield about 16 million cubic metres
of wood per year, which satisfies about 94% of domestic demand and provides for a surplus
for export, largely as pulp, paper, wood chips and other products. The balance of domestic
demand is for special woods or certain papers, which we do not as yet produce locally. The
value of annual sales of roundwood from the plantations is about R1 billion. The land and
the timber is valued at R8 billion.
Box 4.5 addresses the dilemma of whether we need to
afforest more land in South Africa. The area currently afforested amounts to about 60% of
the total area that could be biologically suitable for forestry. Expansion will be driven
by economic need, and constrained by the competition for water resources, by environmental
concerns and by social concerns.
Many plantation forests are being used for purposes in
addition to that of the wood that they supply. These include, for example,
- non-wood or minor forest products, such as ferns and forest
mushrooms, which earn certain companies several million rands a year through licence fees
and royalties paid by collectors;
- recreation and tourism, which is growing rapidly.
|Box 4.5 Do we need to afforest more land in South
Africa? The supply and demand dilemma
and the forestry industry are concerned about the future supply of wood in South Africa.
The prevailing view is that a substantial increase in the afforested area in South Africa
The country will need a lot more wood in future.
Consumption per person will increase if our economy improves. This demand will be mainly
for pulp and paper, and assuming no further increase in exports.
The Forest Industries Association estimates that an
additional 16 million cubic metres of wood per year will be needed in 2020 to fill the gap
between the expected demand (that is, if our economy grows at 4% per annum) and the supply
from the currently afforested land at that time.
Since tree-breeding techniques and general other
improvements in forestry will increase the yield from current afforested areas by about
40% in around 2014, the country does not, however need to double the area under
plantations in order to meet this demand. Nevertheless, in order to meet future demands
from our own land, FIA estimates another 300,000 ha would need to be planted. Shortages
are already being experienced in some regions for certain kinds of wood.
Neighbouring communities do not often have access to these
opportunities. In some cases, such as where women from neighbouring communities used to
earn an income by collecting fruit from plantations for sale to juice manufacturers, the
licensing arrangements have been terminated by foresters
anxious to tighten their controls. The case of groundnut farming in plantations of the
Northern Transvaal (see Box 4.6) illustrates how multiple use involving neighbouring
communities can benefit both parties. There is potential for much wider sharing of
benefits in this way.
[ Top ]
For many years,
the forestry plantations of HL&H Mining Timber and hans Merensky Holdings have existed
side by side with rural communities, many of whom do not have access to agricultural land.
Growing landlessness sometimes led to illegal utilisation of forestry land by neighbouring
A valuable form of multiple land use has developed
gradually over the last 10 years. Farmers, mainly women living close to company land,
raise agricultural crops in eucalypt plantations in exchange for manually weeding and
clearing the land in preparation for new planting. They cultivate common groundnuts and
bambara nuts between rows of young trees.
Apart from weeding, the farmers also have to mark the
sapling positions with wooden pegs and to destroy eucalypt coppices in replanted areas.
Cultivation of groundnuts continues for two years after the trees have been felled and
replanted; farmers then move on to the next block of clearfelled land.
About 60% of the produce is for home consumption, and the
rest is sold. The people have established access to transport and marketing brokers. They
use taxis and bakkies for transport to work in the plantations. They work two to five days
a week and produce one harvest a year.
If all of the 660 ha of land available for cultivation is
put under groundnuts, and all the produce is sold, then there is a potential annual income
of about R1 million to the community. If every family cultivates 0,5 ha, about 1,320
farmers can participate annually, although some entrepreneurs cultivate larger plots.
The crop residue (top growth) is also a valuable
high-protein stock feed, which farmers cart home to feed their livestock in winter. The
input costs to the farmer are limited to time and energy for labour. Seeds are obtained
from the previous year's harvest. In return, the companies receive direct benefits through
reduced costs of forest management and less risk of fire. Improved tree growth is
The scheme has helped improve the companies' relations with
participating farmers, who now have a greater sense of ownership of the resources in
plantations. For example, farmers give voluntary help when forest fires occur.
The wood processing industries
Almost 60% (about 9 million cubic metres) of the wood
produced in South Africa per year is processed for pulp and paper. Sales of products from
this subsector amount to about R7.2 billion annually, accounting for about 92% of the
money generated by processing wood (excluding secondary processing of wood for furniture
and other purposes). Goods to the value of about R3 billion are exported annually, but
most domestic demand is met from the balance, other than for fine papers.
Sawmilling in the formal sector uses about 4 million cubic
metres per year. The sawn wood is supplied to truss manufacturers for the construction
sector (about 1 million cubic metres, 30%), and the balance is supplied as industrial wood
to the furniture industry, pallet manufacturers, and other purposes. Most value is added
in the secondary processing of wood, such as in furniture manufacturing. In addition to
the larger sawmills, about 300 small, often mobile sawmills process about 700,000 cubic
metres per year.
Mining timber is the next most important part of the
industry, consuming just less than 2 million cubic metres of wood per year. The wood is
used to manufacture supports for underground mining. Use has declined at about 3% per
year, but wooden supports remain vital to the gold-mining industry.
The balance of the wood supply (just more than 2 million
cubic metres per year) is used in pole manufacturing, and in composite board manufacture.
Assets in the wood processing industries are valued at R11
billion. The total economic output of the sector amounts to about 5% of the manufacturing
sector in the country.
Secondary manufacturing is an important sector. In 1988,
1,320 furniture manufacturing establishments were estimated to be in operation. Of these,
84% were small firms, employing less than 50 people each. There is significant potential
for creating new small firms, and then employment, especially to supply to markets arising
from the housing programme in the country, and also for exports.
Exports of forestry products amount to 14% by value of the
manufacturing exports from South Africa. These exports arise from opportunities in the
global market for pulp and paper, the need among growers to secure better prices for their
wood, the availability of material arising from the decline in mining timber demand, and
the opportunity to sell material which might otherwise be wasted.
Exports are dominated by pulp and paper (see Table 4.1).
This equates to about 10% of total commercial wood products. Other exports are:
- low-quality sawn boards for scaffolding and casings to the
Far East and Indian Ocean Islands (equivalent to about 80,000-100,000 cubic metres of
roundwood per year);
- furniture and moulded products (equivalent to about 50,000
cubic metres of roundwood per year: dominated by three to four firms);
- composite wood, with wood chips as feedstock;
- about 700,000 cubic metres of wood chips per year to Japan;
- 300,000 cubic metres per year of high-class pruned conifer
logs to Japan (international prices for these are up to four times higher than domestic
- wattle bark extract;
- wattle logs from trees harvested from riparian zones along
Eastern Cape Rivers to Japan.
Table 4.1 Summary of export
statistics for 1993/94. Values for logs are estimates. Volumes have been calculated as
roundwood equivalent, i.e. the volume of logs consumed in the products.
||Volume, cubic metres
|Paper and pulp
mouldings and sawn
[ Top ]
Overall, export successes are in pulp and paper, wood
chips, and wattle bark products. Exports of high-value sawn boards, furniture and moulded
products have been relatively weak, compared with other Southern Hemisphere countries.
On the whole, however, South African firms have been slow
to develop these export markets which have grown rapidly for other Southern Hemisphere
countries. Significant opportunities for value addition inside South Africa are available
in these industries.
The Forest Industries Association estimates the following
ratios of value-addition in forestry industries:
- sawmilling: 2.3 times the raw material cost (delivered at
- mining timber packs: 2.6 times;
- pulp and paper together: 12.6 times;
- roof trusses, furniture and mouldings add further value to
There has been a marked decline in imports of hardwoods
during the past decade, reflecting the rising prices of timber from south-east Asia
(principally meranti) and falling quality. Some substitution has occurred through the use
of locally grown eucalypt wood. In 1990 155,000 tons of paper was imported into the
country. This is 10% of the volume of paper and board consumed in South Africa annually.
25,000 tons of pulp were imported during that period and this was of a specific grade not
produced in South Africa.
Waste and waste utilisation
Forestry and wood processing generates about 4-6 million
tons of wood waste per year, mainly as residue in the plantations and as sawdust and
offcuts at the mills. This waste is used for energy generation locally, and for sale to
pulp and board mills where distances render this economical. Some is sold as firewood to
suppliers to rural households.
All of this waste can potentially be used in higher-value
products, such as composite boards. Distance to the nearest processing plants, and hence
transport costs, is an important constraint. New technologies for less capital-intensive
processing plants, located close to the source, offer solutions.
About 38% of paper and cardboard produced in South Africa
The present structure of the industry
There is a marked degree of concentration of ownership in
commercial forestry in South Africa, together with a high degree of vertical integration
(the companies which own the forests also tend to be those that own the processing
plants). Even retail outlets are owned by the big companies. Large companies own most of
the forests, and farmers own relatively little. The exception is Safcol, which owns few
[ Top ]
Some reasons for the present industry structure are:
- the long period between making the investment and getting a
return tends to favour those with large resources of capital;
- the need for secure returns on the investment in major
capital plants in the processing sector; companies therefore seek to ensure an adequate
resource base for a secure and timely supply to their plants, mainly by owning at least
50% of the plantations needed to supply their raw materials;
- availability of large parcels of land in a market which was
distorted by past land laws;
- the very large scale of capital investment required for pulp
and paper processing plants.
The scale of capital investment required, particularly in
the pulp sector, precludes many small organisations and operations from becoming involved
in certain sub-sectors in timber processing.
There is nonetheless significant opportunity for smaller
enterprises to become involved in secondary processing and value addition activities.
The South African forestry industry is well organised.
Organisations were supported for a period by statutory levies which have now ceased.
Current industry associations are:
- the South African Timber Growers' Association (SATGA),
representing growers in the farming sector;
- Forest Owners' Association (FOA), representing the large
- South African Wattle Growers' Association (SAWGU),
representing growers with wattle bark quotas;
- South African Lumber Millers' Association (SALMA),
representing the organised sawmilling industry;
- South African Wood Preservers' Association (SAWPA),
representing the wood preservation industry;
- the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA).
A new umbrella association has emerged to speak on behalf
of the organised private forestry sector, the Forest Industries Association (FIA),
representing all the associations listed above. Its purpose is to represent the interests
of the commercial forestry industry, among other things, in the new Forestry Forum.
Unions which have been recognised in the industry are the
Pulp Paper and Allied Workers Union (PPAWU) and the new Forest and Farmworkers
4.4.2 Outgrowers and small emergent farmers in
The last 10 years or so has seen rapid growth in the
numbers of black farmers participating in forestry. Three lines of development are
Farmers with use rights to communal land in districts close
to the markets, such as near Richards Bay, have planted Eucalyptus grandis or
wattle (Acacia mearnsii) in lots of about 0.5 to 2 ha, entering the industry at
their own initiative.
Sappi and Mondi have initiated outgrower (contract farming)
schemes in KwaZulu/Natal and the Eastern Transvaal, as part of corporate social investment
programmes, or as commercial schemes with the goal of securing raw material supplies.
Thirdly, the South African Wattle Growers Union (SAWGU) has
opened its membership to small growers of wattle, and actively supports the expansion of
the small-grower sector through extension services, training and loans.
In addition, the Natal Timber Cooperative is actively
providing extension services to aspirant tree-growers in the small-farmer sector and is
establishing technology transfer agreements with the CSIR and others to ensure quality
support to these growers.
As many as 7,000 farmers may be involved in forestry in
this way. The contribution to thewood supply is small, probably less than 2%, but income
from timber sales is or can be an important contributor to household income, and there is
significant potential for growth.
Outgrowers for eucalypt production in KwaZulu/Natal
Since 1983, more than 4,000 black farmers in KwaZulu/Natal
have joined the small-grower commercial timber schemes administered by Sappi Forests,
Mondi Timber and the Lima Rural Development Foundation (a non-government organization
contracted to Sappi).
Farmers join the schemes under contract and are provided
with technical assistance, subsidized inputs and loans for the establishment and
maintenance of small Eucalyptus grandis plantations.
[ Top ]
The average size of these plantations is 1.2 ha. Trees are
planted in plots on land where individual farmers have rights to use the land this way.
After six to eight years the timber companies expect to purchase all trees subsidized by
the schemes. They retain first rights to the timber from subsequent coppice regrowth. The
cost of loans and certain inputs are then deducted from the gross payment to farmers.
The timber is processed in pulp mills at Mandini, Richards
Bay and Umkomaas. At present, small-grower schemes contribute less than 1% of the total
intake at these mills, a contribution which will grow to about 2.5% when these woodlots
are in full production.
The strengths and weaknesses of forestry outgrower scheme
in KwaZulu/Natal need to be understood if policy for future forestry programmes is to be
effective. Factors to consider in the further development of such schemes are outlined in
Progress with these outgrower programmes is slow compared
with the sugar industry in the same province, where about 45,000 outgrowers are involved
(about 94% of the total). These small cane growers farm 90,000 ha (23% of industry total)
to produce 2 million tons of cane annually (9% of industry production). It is unlikely
outgrowing in forestry will make the needed contribution to
wood production unless the industry applies some of the lessons from the sugar sector, in
working more closely with government, and building stronger institutions to support the
|Box 4.7 Current strengths and weaknesses in the
outgrower schemes in KwaZulu/Natal
- Participating households receive income as payment for their
labour in establishing, maintaining, and protecting woodlots (the current average wage is
R8,70 per hour), as well as earning net profits at clearfelling, averaging R2 100 per ha
for 30 households, up to R4,000 to R6,000 per ha; this income was one of several for each
household; Woodlots are also used as a means of saving.
- Outgrower schemes reach the poorest and most isolated
farmers, since the timber companies operate in isolated and neglected rural areas and have
a vested interest in seeing that woodlots are successfully cultivated and profits are
acceptable to farmers; advance payments for site preparation, weeding and fire protection
allow even those farmers with meagre cash incomes to participate.
- Women participate in the schemes on an equal footing with
men; 49% of all woodlots are owned by women.
- Most households (77%) plant less than 50% of their total
land allocation to trees. Trees are normally planted on lands previously used for grazing
or on marginal (especially steep) lands. Woodlots do not seriously compete for household
land and labour, but rather diversify the number of farming enterprises and spread labour
inputs more evenly through the year.
- Outgrower schemes inject capital into under-developed areas
and provide farmers with timely and appropriate inputs, professional advice, an assured
market and local employment spin-offs.
- Smallholders can have little or no influence over the terms
of contract. The formation of growers' associations can balance the power of companies in
negotiating the terms of contracts. Present associations, supported by Mondi, need to
develop their independence.
- Risks arise from depending on a single crop for a single
market; diversification is useful here. Wattle, for example, provides a greater diversity
of products that can be sold into various markets, providing greater opportunity to
- Outgrower schemes may cause inequities. In areas of rapid
afforestation newcomers are less likely to procure unused land for their own households.
Some households may have joined the schemes in order to tie up unused land.
- Farmers may sometimes overlook more profitable alternatives
such as sub-tropical fruit, and need balanced extension services to facilitate a proper
choice of land use.
- The schemes have resulted in a certain amount of discord and
concern among rural communities. About 18% of growers recount cases of conflict with
neighbours concerning stock damage, boundary disputes and deliberate fire in individual
plots. Large areas of block plantings have been deliberately destroyed. Fears are greatest
where schemes have recently been introduced, where trees were planted in large blocks
rather than in individual plots, and where there has been a history of community hostility
toward plantations (e.g. State forests on tribal lands) or interference in land ownership
(e.g. land bordering nature reserves and forced removals).
- People have raised concerns about the affects of
afforestation on stream runoff and groundwater levels.
- The commercial woodlots are not well integrated into farming
systems e.g. for building poles production and general benefits such as windbreaks, shade,
fodder, prevention of soil erosion, and soil enrichment.
[ Top ]
Compared to the total number of people working in the
forestry industry, only a small number receive formal forestry education. Nevertheless,
there is significant capacity for education and training in
forestry in South Africa.
Formal education in forestry in the form of B, M and D
degrees and diplomas is offered at three tertiary institutions in South Africa.
Furthermore, several universities and Technikons offer degree and diploma courses in
natural resource management which include forestry as part of their curricula. These
deliver about 42 graduates and 108 diplomates per annum. Most are male. The Fort Cox
College for Agriculture has only black diplomates; 40% of the students at Saasveld (Port
Elizabeth Technikon) are black. The students at the Faculty of Forestry of the University
of Stellenbosch (an Afrikaans medium university) have been predominantly white males but
25% of the first-year students in 1995 are black.
Formal tertiary training in the life sciences
Most South African universities and technikons offer
undergraduate and post-graduate courses in the life sciences (botany, biology, genetics,
microbiology, genetics, ecology, zoology). People with these qualifications often pursue a
career in forestry. At the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry of the University
of the Orange Free State, which receives industry support, a large component of the focus
is on tree pathology.
[ Top ]
Timber Industry Manpower Services (TIMS), established by
the Forestry Council in 1975, served principally to train trainers in forestry and
sawmilling, but also trained more than 25,000 workers until 1992. TIMS was closed in 1992,
by which time companies had sufficient trainers available in-house.
The Baynesfield Training Centre, supported by a grant from
the Forest Owners Association and contributions from the South African Timber Growers'
Association (SATGA), the South African Wattle Growers' Union (SAWGU) and timber
cooperatives, now incorporates part of the former TIMS and offer plantation-orientated
courses (such as chainsaw operation, pruning and fire protection), catering for the needs
of smaller timber growers.
Part of the TIMS's programme was transferred to the Sabie
Training Centre, run by the South African Lumber Millers' Association (SALMA). The centre
offers a full range of courses on timber processing, and courses on construction of
timber-frame houses and carpentry training.
Larger companies offer high-level employee training. One
forestry company trains about 4 500 employees annually in some 60 courses in silviculture,
transport, harvesting, processing and management skills.
Vocational training is also offered by:
- the Tree Pathology Cooperative Programme, University of the
Orange Free State: regular courses for field foresters;
- the CSIR's Division of Forest Science and Technology: an
annual tree-breeding course for tree breeders from sub-tropical regions; agroforestry
training courses; training as an integral part of both in-house and contract research.
Literacy and life skills
Industry players are directing increasing resources at
training and education not directly related to forestry skills. The most important of
these is literacy training. For example, one forestry company started literacy training in
1991 and trained 878 employees in functional literacy and 94 trainers over a three-year
period. Other areas of training relate to basic adult education, hygiene, nutrition,
family planning, and basic business skills. These programmes are vital to address the
still high levels of illiteracy among forestry workers and their dependents.
Workers' views of further needs in training and
Workers and their trade unions emphasise four principal
areas of need in training and development:
- there is still a very high rate of illiteracy among workers
in the industry, not yet sufficiently addressed by training offered by the industry;
- the extent and quality of the training which is offered is
uneven - some companies (or regions) offer better training than others and workers do not,
therefore, have equal access to training;
- the training which does exist is not part of a national
qualifications framework and workers' skills cannot be formally recognised; this prevents
them from being mobile within the industry;
- most training is fairly narrow, on-the-job type training
with no opportunities to build towards broader human resource development; this
discourages a process of
career path development and tends to confine workers to
relatively low-skill jobs, even when they have the capacity to go further.
Community health and training
Most major forestry companies employ qualified nursing
personnel at clinics on site. In rural areas, these clinics provide health care to
neighbouring communities in the form of basic education in sanitation, nutrition, birth
control and AIDS education.
[ Top ]
The development of forestry in South Africa has been
supported by research and technology transfer from the beginning. In many respects,
successful development was determined by the outcome of ongoing research programmes (see
Box 4.8 for aspects of past and current forestry research, and advances made).
|Box 4.8 Aspects of past and current forestry research
in South Africa
Research since the late 1800s
up to the present has focused on and is addressing the following:
- Indigenous forests and woodlands;
- Tree breeding;
- Wood properties: mechanical and processing requirements;
- Water use in forestry;
- Social forestry;
- Atmospheric pollution;
- Information systems;
- Biopulping and bleaching;
- Waste and pollution management in the pulp and paper sector.
Significant advances in forestry research
- Through tree breeding, volume production has increased by
10-30%, and smaller branch sizes in a 10% reduction of pruning costs. Spectacular
improvements through the cloning of genotypes have brought about a 46% improvement in
average volume production of E grandis clones, and 25-70% less spitting of harvested
- Breakthrough research in wood properties laid the basis for
the grading of sawn boards, and for establishing national standards. Research advances in
the treatment of wood greatly increased timber durability, longevity and resistance to
- South African silvicultural research from the 1930s to the
1970s had a major impact on forest science world-wide. New procedures were developed for
pruning, planting distances between trees, thinning and periods between harvesting,
amongst others. As a result, plantation management practices were greatly improved
- The hydrological effects of afforestation and other land
uses can now be calculated on the basis of a sound knowledge of hydrological processes in
- Sophisticated information technology today greatly enhances
the effective management of forestry. Geographical information systems (GIS), for example,
are being used to manage the vast amounts of information involved in the Afforestation
Permit System, to manage mountain catchments in the western Cape, for bioclimatic
modelling and to classify plantation sites to obtain maximum value from them. A computer
model has also been developed which allows the user to experiment with the economic,
environmental and social consequences of different land- and water-use patterns in a
catchment. Satellite remote sensing is increasingly being used to assess and monitor
plantations and natural resources.
- Research in the pulp and paper industry aims to reduce the
environmental impact of this industry, mainly by using certain fungi in pre-treating
woodchips, in biopulping and in using fungi in stead of chlorine in bleaching chemical
pulps for the paper industry.
- Significant improvements have been made in waste and
pollution management in the pulp and paper sector through, for example, a 10-fold increase
in water-use efficiency in the pulp mill, and the management and abatement of air
pollution and effluents.
Current scope of forestry and forest products research
Forestry research includes the research and development
required for forest resources as its major focus, but is closely interfaced with several
fields such as water resource and catchment management, forest products and timber
processing development, land resources management in general, environmental conservation,
and rural economic and social development. Also important are the impacts of industrial
pollution and global change.
The total current expenditure on R&D and technology in
the forest products sector is estimated at between R18 million and R20 million per year.
Most of this research is conducted by international or in-house facilities.
The significant capacity for forest research in South
Africa is distributed among the science councils (Forestek at the CSIR, the Plant
Protection Research Institute, at the Agricultural Research Council, universities, and the
forestry companies, who all have significant capacity in-house, as well as in the
Institute for Commercial Forestry Research, primarily funded by contributions from members
of the Forestry Owners Association. The capacity for research on commercial forestry has
declined by probably 20-30% in the past five years, with budget reductions and
retrenchments or reassignments.
In forestry (excluding forest products), the investment in
R&D is about 3% of industry turnover. In 1994/95, the expenditure was estimated at R28
million (about R8 m at Forestek, R6 m at the ICFR), and nearly R14 m in the company
laboratories). Grants from the Foundation for Research Development may indirectly (through
research grants to individual academics) and directly (through the forestry development
programme) support forestry R&D. At this stage, the State is funding about 30% of
R&D in forestry; in 1990/91, it was about 50%.
Research organisations in South African forestry are listed
in Table 4.2, indicating their key areas of research and development, research staff and
sources and amounts of funding.
Certain prominent weaknesses in past programmes are the
- research to support development of forest policy;
- research on social and economic costs and benefits of
forestry, taking full account of all costs and benefits;
- social forestry and agroforestry;
- impact of afforestation on habitat and biodiversity.
These gaps have recently begun to be addressed through
refocussing of government-funded programmes, including the work funded by the Department
of Water Affairs and Forestry and the Department of Mineral and Energy Affairs, as well as
projects executed by the Land and Agriculture Policy Centre.
[ Top ]
The development of forest law
The forest legislation and governance of today originated
from British Colonial forest laws. The Cape Forest Act was in many respects the forerunner
of the Union Forest Act of 1913, and its many successors, including the statutes
promulgated for forestry in the former homeland states.
The essential features of the body of forest law are:
- the demarcation and control of State Forests and provision
for similar control on private forests; protection and utilisation of demarcated forests
in all its aspects was determined by such provisions;
- conservation, on State forests and through the designation
of forests and tree species for protection in law;
- forest and veld fire control;
- control over marketing and sale of forest products;
- police powers for forest officers, and presumption of guilt
and negligence in certain circumstances (contrary to South Africa's common law);
- use of minor forest products (later regulations provided for
licensing of traditional use of forests, such as "theza" wood in the former
- control of new afforestation.
Box 4.9 contains an overview of the provisions of the
Forest Act of 1984.
[ Top ]
Table 4.2 Research organisations in
South African forestry, their key areas of R&D, research staff and funding. Excludes
research on wood processing
||Key R&D areas
||No. of research staff, full-time equivalents
||Funding (millions of rands per year - approx)
||Sources of funding 1994/5
|Institute for Commercial Forestry Research
||Forest Establishment; growth and horticulture; forest
||Forestry companies through the FOA, SATGA & SAWGU
||Tree breeding; propagation; land management
||Plant genetics; plant physiology; plant biology
||Tree improvement; biotechnology; applied silviculture;
forestry and geographical information systems
|University of Stellenbosch
||Wood science; forest science; nature conservation
||Government, FOA, and large forestry companies
||Tree breeding; tree improvement
||Own and government
||Tree improvement; forest management; applied silviculture;
environmental management; land-use and hydrology; timber utilisation; forestry for
||R7,9 million from the Department of Water Affairs and
Forestry; approximately R5,0 million from CSIR parliamentary grant; balance from other
|University of the OFS, Dept. of Microbiology and
||Tree pathology; molecular screening
||Forestry companies, FOA
|Institute of Natural Resources
||Rural development with social forestry as part
||Grants, donors and contracts
|Plant Protection Research Institute, Agricultural Research
||ARC parliamentary grant; contracts
|Energy for Development Research Centre
||Energy, as well as aspects of social forestry
|Land and Agriculture Policy Centre
||Policy issues, sometimes including forestry and social
||Grants, donors and contracts
|Box 4.9 The provisions of the Forest Act, Act 122 of
This Act includes provisions not directly
concerned with forest policy, such as those regarding the National Botanical Institute.
Relevant provisions are summarised here.
Control over afforestation: this provides for the
afforestation permit system; there is provision for incentives through government loans
Control over State Forests: this provides for the
demarcation of State Forests through notice in the Gazette; the approval of
Parliament is required to withdraw the demarcation; permission for servitudes on
demarcated forest land must be granted by the Minister and approved by Parliament;
permission for temporary rights to carry out activities such as trading, grazing and
agriculture may be obtained from the Director-General.
Protection of biota and ecosystems: this provides
for the protection of trees on private land by notice in the Gazette; provision is
made for single trees for scenic beauty, groups of trees for erosion prevention and trees
of a particular species for conservation; the land owner may receive compensation to cover
loss suffered as a result of such protection being imposed; provision is made for State
forest to be set aside as nature reserve and wilderness areas by the Minister to protect
particular natural forest, plants or animals; a resolution of parliament is required to
withdraw land from this status.
Control over quality of timber and settling of disputes
over prices: the Minister may prohibit the removal, purchase, sale or disposal of
certain grades or standards of timber; provision is made for parties to a contract for the
supply of timber in the round that are unable to agree on a price in terms of the price
review provisions of the contract to refer the dispute to the director-general who may
determine the price.
Prevention and combating of veld, forest and mountain
fires: this provides for the declaration of fire control areas and regions and the
establishment of fire control committees who prepare a fire protection scheme which, after
publication in the Government Gazette, is binding on each land owner in the areas
under the committee's jurisdiction; provision for funding for the fire control committees;
the clearing and maintenance of fire belts is required of land owners in control areas;
provision is made for extraordinary precautions in times of fire hazard when the
director-general may prevent the lighting of fires, and the burning of vegetation for a
Forestry Council: the Council was to promote and
encourage the development of the forest and timber industry; members are appointed by the
Minister. The Council has now been replaced by the Forestry Forum.
The powers of forest officers, the nature of offences,
and the powers of the police and magistrates regarding the Act: forest or police
officers may arrest any person suspected of committing an offence in terms of the Act and
seize forest products unlawfully obtained; offences include damaging or removing forest
produce including seven-week ferns, starting a fire, carrying out activities on State
forest land without authority, failure to take reasonable steps to extinguish a fire,
hunting or catching game, birds or insects; in the event of criminal proceedings where it
is alleged that any forest produce or timber is the property of the State or a particular
person, this is presumed until the contrary is proved; in respect of a veld, forest or
mountain fire on land outside a fire control area, negligence is presumed until the
contrary is proved.
This law reflects an integrated approach, centred on the
concept of conservation being all of protection, management, and utilisation. The law
includes plantation forests as well as natural forests and woodlands. On a State forest,
or private forest identified under the provisions of the law, all things were identified
as "forest products" - plants, animals, soil and rocks. Initially, management
and utilisation were indeed integrated. Later, a divergence arose within forestry and
within the larger body of conservation in South Africa, setting utilisation against
conservation principles. This was reinforced by the growing role of the State as a
commercial forestry agent. The question as to whether forestry legislation should continue
to have this form, or whether a single body of law should provide for environmental
protection and a special law for commercial forestry, is now controversial.
South Africa's provisions for control of afforestation for
the benefit of water resources are unique (see Box 4.10).
[ Top ]
|Box 4.10 The afforestation permit system
The Forest Act provides for the control of afforestation for the
benefit of water resources, both through limitations of afforestation, and through
provisions governing the management of the forest estate. Initially, this did not apply to
the former homelands, but the permit system now applies everywhere in South Africa.
Deep controversy country-wide about the effects of
afforestation on water supplies emerged from about the 1920s, mainly from farmers
complaining that their water supplies were diminishing. Investigations indicated that
problems were often related to drought rather than afforestation. Scientific opinion was
divided, some forest scientists holding to the view that forests increased river flow!
This controversy is well documented in the report of the Committee on Afforestation and
Water Supplies (Department of Forestry 1968) and earlier publications.
The government responded by establishing a series of
catchment hydrological experiments, in the Cape, Kwazulu/Natal and the Transvaal, starting
in 1935. Results indicated unequivocally that afforestation increased evaporation from the
catchments, and thus decreased river flow. These results later allowed effects to be
Any landowner intending to plant a stand of trees on new
land or where trees have not been grown for five years, is obliged to apply for permission
to plant. A permit is granted or withheld after inspection on site, and calculation of the
probable effects on water resources. The permits are issued or withheld according to their
expected influence on runoff, noting the requirements of all users in each catchment. For
this purpose, the country's catchments have been divided into three categories. In
Category I no further afforestation is permitted, because water supplies were already
under pressure in 1972. In Categories II and III, additional areas in potentially
afforestable regions are limited to the further reduction of the mean annual runoff (MAR)
as at 1972 by 5% and 10% respectively. From November 1994 this classification has been
superseded by provision for regulation at the quaternary catchment level, and amended to
limit impacts on low flows.
Permits determine that no more than about 75% of land may
be afforested, and prohibit planting of commercial forest trees in riparian zones (usually
defined as the land within 30 m of any perennial stream, and 50 m from the border of
wetlands). It prescribes annual removal of invasive trees and shrubs from unafforested
land, and encourages consultation with experts from relevant government departments.
Procedures have been adapted to provide for the relevant stipulations of the Agricultural
Resources Act with respect to planting virgin soil and steep land, although landowners
must deal separately with other stipulations of the Act.
Permits may be attached to the title deeds to the property
(this provision has not been applied), but lapse after three years if unused (previously,
the validity was for five years).
From 1972 to the present, permits have been issued for over
a million hectares of afforestation on about 4,000 different properties, but only 38% of
the land earmarked has been afforested.
The system has been criticised for many reasons: that it
discriminates against the forestry sector, that field control is inadequate, that the
hydrological information used to calculate impacts of water underestimate effects when
river flow is low, or in drier areas of the country, that local effects on water resources
are not adequately addressed, that the system was applied secretively. Environmental
pressure groups have seized on the system to go beyond the provisions of the law and use
it to protect habitats and biodiversity.
Recently, the Minister has adapted the policy and
determined that permit applications be widely publicised, that opportunity be given for
hearing the views of all interested and affected parties, and that contentious cases be
made subject to environmental impact assessment.
The forest laws of the former homelands were repealed in
1994 and the current Forest Act with its amendments now applies to all of South Africa.
Government reported prosecutions under the Act until
1985/86. Numbers reported varied from about 300 per year to 3,000, overwhelmingly local
people convicted of trespass or theft of wood and other forest produce. Prosecutions for
causing fires became frequent in the 1980s.
[ Top ]
National laws relating to forests and forestry
The Interim Constitution for South Africa determines that
forestry should be a function of central government, on the grounds that the natural and
man-made forest resources of the country are small, and that their conservation and
development should therefore be centrally controlled. Apart from the Forest Act (Act 122
of 1984), there are a number of other policies and laws applicable to forestry. These are
summarised in Table 4.3.
Table 4.3 Current national laws
relating to forest and forestry
|Act or policy
|Forest Act (Act 122 of 1984)
||Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
||See Box 4.9
|Management of State Forest Act (Act 128 of 1992)
||An independent Board of Directors responsible to the
Minister for Public Enterprises
||The South African Forestry Company Ltd (Safcol) is
established as a private company registered in terms of the Companies Act. Safcol is run
on private-sector, profit-making lines, with due and proper regard for the environment,
its employees, its customers, and for the well-being of the forest industry generally.
|The Environment Conservation Act (Act 73 of 1989)
||Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism
||Provides for the effective protection and controlled
utilisation of the environment; its focal point is "sustainable development",
which is called upon to be exercised by each Minister, Administrator, local authority, and
government institution having duties in connection with the environment. Forest management
must fall within that description. Essentially an enabling statute, little used. Draft
regulations prescribing the implementation of integrated environmental management are
under discussion (Government Notice 171 of 1994, 172 of 1994).
|The National Parks Act (Act 57 of 1976)
||The National Parks Board under the Department of
Environmental Affairs and Tourism
||Provides for the designation and management of national
parks, and for the constitution and work of the National Parks Board of Trustees. The Act
provides absolute protection to all trees and other 'forest produce' in parks.
|The Physical Planning Act (Act 125 of 1991)
||Department of Land Affairs
||To promote the orderly physical development of the
Republic, and may affect forest lands and afforestation permits.
|The Water Act (Act 54 of 1956)
||Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
||Provides for water supply and water treatment. The Water
Act overlaps with the provisions for protection of water resources in the Forest Act. The
Water Act is currently being revised through a process of public involvement.
|Mountain Catchment Areas Act (Act 63 of 1970)
||Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, but with
the powers delegated to the Provinces
||Provides for the conservation, use, management and control
of land situated in the mountain catchment areas, and provides for matters incidental
thereto, inclusive of forestry for watershed protection.
|The Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act (Act 43 of
||Department of Agriculture
||Provides for land rehabilitation measures inclusive of
agroforestry and other tree-planting projects for soil conservation. Ploughing new land,
planting steep land.
|Restitution of Land Rights (Act 22 of 1994); Land
Administration (Act 2 of 1995); Labour Tenants Bill (Proposed)
||Department of Land Affairs
||In line with the RDP, land restitution and land
redistribution will affect tree-planting and afforestation in the future.
|The Wattle Bark Control Act (Act 23 of 1960)
||Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
||To effect agreement between growers, millers and
manufacturers of wattle bark products.
|The Plant Improvement Act (Act 53 of 1976)
||Department of Agriculture
||Controls the development of plant cultivars
|The Land Bank Act (Act 13 of 1944)
||Amongst other things, provides for advances for the
cultivation of trees.
International conventions relating to forests and
There are several international conventions relating to
forests and forestry, summarised in Table 4.4.
[ Top ]
Table 4.4 International conventions
relating to forests and forestry International convention
|The Forest Declaration adopted by heads of governments at
the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992, officially
"the non-legally binding authoritative statement of principles for a global consensus
on the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests"
||Forest resources and forest lands should be sustainably
managed to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual human needs of
present and future generations. These needs are for forest products and services, such as
wood products, water, food, fodder, medicine, fuel, shelter, employment, recreation,
habitats for wildlife, landscape diversity, and other forest products. Appropriate
measures should be taken to protect forests against harmful effects of pollution,
including air-borne pollution, fires, pests and diseases in order to maintain their full
|Agenda 21 on combating deforestation developed at the UN
Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992
||Provisions for four programme areas to be pursued:
- sustaining the multiple roles and functions of all types of
forests, forest lands and woodlands enhancing the protection, sustainable management and
conservation of all forests, and the greening of degraded areas, through forest
rehabilitation afforestation, reforestation and other rehabilitative means
- promoting efficient utilization and addressment to recover
the full valuation of the goods and services provided by forests, forest lands and
- establishing and/or strengthening capacities for the
planning, assessment and systematic observations of forests and related programmes,
projects and activities, including commercial trade and processes.
|The general guidelines for the sustainable management of
forests in Europe developed at the Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in
Europe, Helsinki, 1993
||Sustainable forest management means the stewardship and
use of forests and forest lands in a way, and at a rate, that maintains their
biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and their potential to fulfil,
now and in the future, relevant ecological, economic and social functions, at local,
national, and global levels, and that does not cause damage to other ecosystems.
These conventions were developed to address issues relevant
to countries such as Brazil and Indonesia, whose forests are extensive, and forest
protection and management concerns are prominent on national and international agendas.
They are not equally relevant to a forest-poor country such as South Africa.
The effect that these conventions, and the values which
underlie them, have on trade is important. For example, paper companies throughout the
world now often win or lose sales on the basis of whether or not their raw materials come
from sustainablymanaged forests, whether plantations or not.
South Africa, and hence the Minister, has an obligation to
consider the terms of international law and give effect to the principles of both formal
international conventions, the customary international law, and the "soft"
international law. The last category refers to principles which have gained widespread
moral and political acceptance. The norms contained in the Rio Declaration are an example
These conventions apply in the first place to natural
forests and woodlands, the products and benefits they yield, and associated matters. They
apply to wood products in general, and therefore at least in part to plantations. Insofar
as plantation forests affect biodiversity, the biodiversity convention would also be
The creation of Safcol
Safcol (the South African Forestry Company Limited) was
created in 1992 (see Table 4.3) to operate on the State Forests of the then South African
Government (i.e. excluding the forests of the former homelands) as a profit-making company
managing the plantation forests and processing plants of the Department of Water Affairs
and Forestry. The State Forests were deproclaimed in 1994, but the land remains the
property of the State.
This change was aimed at focusing the role of the State on
matters of policy and the public good, rather than on commercial forestry, and at
increasing the commercial value and profitability of the forestry operations. Safcol has
operated for a brief period, but is proving profitable.
Incentives for afforestation
The Forest Act provides for incentives for afforestation
through government loans. The programmes based on this provision all failed because they
were too cumbersome to implement, or because funds could not be found.
Fiscal incentives in the form of plantation tax benefits
has attracted investment in timber farms and may have contributed to the conversion by
some farmers from other agricultural activities to forestry. The Department of Water
Affairs and Forestry has recently proposed to the RDP Office a scheme to encourage
emergent forest farmers through subsidising the cost of plantation establishment, and
enhanced training and extension services.
Market, trade and tariff policy
Current legislation provides for intervention on prices,
for control of quality of wood products, and various other measures relevant to the
marketing and trade of forest products.
Until recently, government played a central role, if
indirect, in controlling the timber markets and the industry, through a uniform pricing
policy for sawlog contracts.
The Timber Marketing Agreement (between formal sawmillers)
provided for control of the domestic prices of sawlogs. This was abandoned in 1987 under
pressure from the Monopolies Board. The production and marketing of wattle bark is still
controlled, through a quota system and an inspectorate.
Overall, the forestry industry now has little protection
against foreign trade. Current tariff protection on timber is zero, that on pulp zero, and
on paper products, 10% (falling to 5% on the GATT and 10% on coated paper). These tariffs
are higher than in the EC (9%) and the USA (4%) but less than in countries such as Brazil
(25%). In South Africa, sugar has a 120% import tariff (falling to 80% under the GATT over
the next 10 years), motor vehicles 100% (50%), textiles 60% (30%). The average for other
manufactured goods is (15%).
South African firms enjoyed a subsidy for exports through
the GEIS (general export incentive scheme). GEIS applied to the pulp and paper sector but
not to roundwood and sawn boards. GEIS will be phased out over about five years.
[ Top ]
4.8.1 Afforestation impacts upon water supply and water
Commercial plantations are largely confined to the few
parts of the country with an annual rainfall of more than 800 mm. These are also the
source areas of many of the rivers on which the country relies for its water supply.
Water is used by vegetation through the evaporation of
intercepted water and through transpiration. In South Africa, commercial forest
plantations mostly replace low, seasonally dormant grassland, open deciduous woodland, or
low to medium-height evergreen fynbos. Because of the size of the plantation trees, their
deep rooting, and evergreen habit, they use more water than the indigenous vegetation.
Stands of mature pines and eucalypts use about 300-600 mm
per year of rainfall equivalent more than the natural vegetation they replace. Mean yearly
reductions in runoff over the rotation range from 200 to 300 mm.
Vegetation in the riparian zone, the land near a stream or
wetland, uses up to twice as much water as it would elsewhere in the catchment.
Afforestation permits recognise this fact and bar afforestation within these zones (see
Box 4.10). On average, riparian zones occupy about 10% of the area of afforested
4.8.2 Current and predicted effects of afforestation on
Currently, commercial forestry plantations are estimated to
reduce available surface water by about 3.5% (equating to about 7.6% of total current
demand). A scenario of an additional 300,000 hectares, as suggested by the Forest
Industries Association, would imply about 18% increase in this consumption. This water
would be used anyway; the question is what the most beneficial use would be, and how much
would be most beneficially used by forestry.
Most of this reduction has been in the Eastern Transvaal
(8% of total river runoff). Afforestation of land currently permitted for new
afforestation in the Eastern Transvaal would consume an additional 2%. The total would
amount to about half the current consumption for irrigation in that province.
4.8.3 Concerns about afforestation and water supplies
People are concerned about this issue for the following
kinds of reasons:
- that the impacts on water resources have not been accurately
estimated, and may be higher than we think, especially in the dry season and during
- that it is not clear whether best value is being gained from
the water consumed; this includes concerns about whether forestry provides best value,
compared with high-value crops such as fruit, also whether the water saved by not
afforesting is more profitably used than it would have been;
- that the legislation discriminated against forestry and
absolves other land users;
- that because plantation forests consume water upstream of
users who add value through industrial and irrigation use, and because this consumption
cannot be stopped or reduced while the trees remain, there can be no fair apportionment or
rationing during times of shortage;
- that local effects of afforestation, such as on the
assurance of supplies to communities, are not addressed through the permit system;
- that permits have been allocated despite the objections of
interested parties such as the conservation authorities; that it has caused afforestation
to occur in areas such as the Drakensberg foothills, where it is environmentally
unacceptable; and that it has been abused in other ways;
- that the system is inadequately administered and controlled,
so that merit-worthy afforestation is delayed or prevented by the fact that many permits
remain unused elsewhere, and the stipulations governing planting plans are not met in many
- that it does and will exclude small farmers and communities
from entering forestry in cases where it is justifiable.
[ Top ]
4.8.4 Costs and benefits of forestry in the context of
Full cost-benefit analyses and social-welfare analyses of
forestry and its alternatives have not been conducted in South Africa. In terms of water
consumption, however, forestry is often highly beneficial. For example, the income from
the sale of logs is about the same as that of the sugar industry, yet the latter consumes
about twice as much water as does forestry.
Irrigated agriculture as a whole is highly consumptive of
water, relative to forestry, and pays low prices for water which do not reflect the
economic value of the irrigation water. Some irrigated agricultural communities, such as
tobacco, yield greater financial returns that does wood.
Forestry's economic benefits lie in processing, rather than
4.9.1 Habitats and biodiversity
Afforestation involves the replacement of natural
vegetation such as grassland or woodland, ancient communities rich in species. Such
fundamental habitat change obviously impacts upon biodiversity (Box 4.11).
Various types of grassland are most affected. About 11% of
the grasslands of the mountains and higher-lying parts of South Africa are afforested. But
certain types are more heavily afforested. For example, about 25% of the grassland typical
of the Eastern Transvaal escarpment is afforested.
In certain cases, such as in the coastal forest zone of
KwaZulu/Natal, afforestation has seldom replaced natural habitats, but rather sugar
plantations or other agricultural crops. Concern about impacts on biodiversity arises
principally in mountainous regions, such as the Wolkberg centre of endemism in the
Northern and Eastern Transvaal Provinces. This is because the grassland habitats in the
mountainous regions contain many native species of which a large percentage does not occur
Although forestry displaces many of the original species,
it does provide habitats for new species suited to arboreal habitats. Nevertheless,
biodiversity in plantations is lower than otherwise, except in comparison with other
mono-crops such as many agricultural crops, and degraded land.
The forest industry can and does contribute significantly
to the conservation of biodiversity and habitats in the country. This is because negative
impacts are confined to planted land, and are mitigated by survival of adapted species,
and because of biodiversity on unafforested land within the estate (Box 4.11). Much
unafforested land within forest estates has been demarcated for conservation.
[ Top ]
|Box 4.11 Influence of afforestation on biodiversity
The density of plantations with closed canopies
eliminate the majority of grassland and other native species that previously occurred in
the natural habitat.
Nevertheless, some species do survive in plantations either
by dispersing into the new habitat or by remaining and adapting to the changed habitat.
For example, a study on the Eastern Shores of Lake St Lucia in Zululand indicated that 64
plant species were recorded within plantations, compared with 114 species in the adjacent
secondary grasslands and 142 species in the adjacent secondary thicket and forest. The
plantations replaced these two vegetation types. A total of 330 plant species were
recorded in young second-rotation pine plantations along the Eastern Transvaal Escarpment.
Most of these species were weedy species or woody species, and in general were not
grassland species. Nevertheless, biodiversity is substantially reduced. In the Western
Cape, natural vegetation surrounding plantations has three times as many birds as adjacent
young plantations and ten times as many birds as adjacent old plantations.
At a larger scale, i.e. the scale of the landscape, the
impacts of afforestation on biodiversity are less severe than at the scale of planted
habitats because on average about 60% to 70% of the average forest estate is planted to
trees, with most of the unplanted areas being managed for conservation.
Disruption of natural ecological processes such as fires is
another major impact of afforestation on biodiversity at the landscape scale. Fires would
have occurred naturally in most habitats, but are now being excluded or controlled.
Furthermore, annual firebreaks in grassland areas adjacent to plantations are undertaken
during early autumn. Fire during autumn is not a good season for maintaining grassland
biodiversity. The result of these disruptions to fire disturbance processes in grassland
is a change in grassland composition and a loss of species.
Other effects include fragmentation of habitats, which
inhibits animal and plant dispersal processes with the potential to cause local
extinction, disruptions to hydrological processes, which often cause wetlands to dry up,
with the associated loss of wetland species, and the spread of invasive exotic trees and
shrubs from the plantations (most endangered plant species like the fynbos are threatened
by these invasives).
Thus, though forest estates do contribute to conservation
of biodiversity, the indirect effects of afforestation would need to be carefully managed.
Overall, afforestation reduces biodiversity, a cost which
is inevitable if we are to meet our needs for wood. The concerns presently are that:
[ Top ]
- affected habitats and species should be adequately conserved
in appropriate reserves as well as on forest estates where possible;
- afforestation should continue where justifiable, but should
not proceed in areas important for the conservation of biodiversity;
- effective assessment is needed to ensure that proposed
afforestation is properly evaluated in terms of biodiversity impacts.
Some experts maintain that too much afforestation has
occurred, and that it must be reduced. This is especially in areas of attractive scenery,
or special conservation value. Afforested land is being cleared in the Eastern Shores of
St Lucia for this reason. Pressures are mounting to do so in districts such as those along
4.9.2 Forestry and soil fertility
Most commercial forests in South Africa were established in
grassland ecosystems on naturally acid soils which are prone to loss of mineral nutrients.
Where mineral nutrients in the wood are exported by harvesting, or if the forest litter is
not effectively recycled, the already acid soils lose fertility.
Acidification and forestry effects together have been found
to be comparable to areas worst affected by 'acid rain' in the industrialised countries of
the northern hemisphere. The leaching loss of nutrients is exacerbated by the increasing
acidity of rainfall over much of the region, caused principally by industrial pollution.
About one sixth (0.23 million ha out of 1.39 million hectares) of the plantations in South
Africa are on soils with a high risk of acidification due to their shallowness, low buffer
capacity, or low base status. On these sites, plantation forestry would be unsustainable
in the long term in the absence of fertilization.
Negative impacts on forest productivity will be apparent
long before the ecosystem nutrient stock is depleted - perhaps as soon as the second or
third rotation. The application of fertilizer is technically feasible, but has an economic
impact, and unless carefully applied, could have an environmental impact as well.
4.9.3 Environmental impacts beyond the afforested
Forestry has wider-scale impacts. Alteration of the
landscape affects perceived scenic value. This is controversial. Injudicious layout of
plantations frequently offends the eye; the forestry industry has instituted guidelines to
prevent this, and is implementing them. For example, forestry companies have cleared and
maintained at least 2800 km of riparian zones on their estates, which would effect a
significant aesthetic improvement.
Afforested landscapes are perceived differently by
different observers. It seems that many visitors to such areas as the Eastern Transvaal
perceive the afforested landscape as attractive, but many people who appreciate the South
African landscape, do not.
A second wider-scale impact is that on water in rivers
which flow through conserved areas, such as the Kruger National Park. Many of these are no
longer perennial. Most of the upstream abstraction is not owing to forestry. Consumption
by forestry of water which would otherwise have flowed to the Park is estimated at about
8.4%, that by irrigation, 24%.
However, in the Sabie River, water use attributable to
plantation forests is equal to 27% of the river flow as it would be before afforestation,
nearly twice that of irrigation use.
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4.9.4 Environmental policies of South African
All forestry companies subscribe voluntarily to
best-practice guidelines for environmental management, developed by a working group
representing all major forestry interests, public and private, and issued in 1990. The
document has recently been revised and published as "Guidelines for environmental
conservation management in commercial forests in South Africa". It is a collective
commitment to ensuring that development takes place in the most economic and
environmentally acceptable way and that the forestry enterprise remains sustainable.
Forestry companies have developed self-assessment
procedures to ensure application of the guidelines, incorporating them into their internal
procedural manuals and instituting monitoring and evaluation procedures (environmental
audits). The S A Timber Growers' Association actively encourages smaller private growers
to use the guidelines.
The South African guidelines deal with both planning and
operations. They propose that Integrated Environmental Management procedures be followed
in planning afforestation or reafforestation.
Companies have also begun to apply environmental impact
assessment procedures in terms of the integrated environmental management policy of the
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, a policy derived from the concept of
environmentally sustainable development. However, the fact that the system is not legally
underpinned, with the industry being both referee and player, is a significant weakness.
It opens companies and the sector as a whole to the risk of intervention by lobby groups
who could readily engage apparently independent authoritative experts to discredit the
environmental management standards. Enforcement through the law and an independent
authority with the resources to provide clear evaluations and certifications of
environmental management in forestry could protect the interests of the sector.
4.9.5 Impacts of environmental change on commercial
Atmospheric pollution from the Eastern Transvaal Highveld
is high, with the potential for regional environmental impacts. Gaseous pollutants do not
evidently reach high levels in forestry areas, although some widespread symptoms of foliar
damage to Pinus patula are difficult to explain without invoking atmospheric pollution.
Deposition of particulates and acidified rain in the Eastern Transvaal has the potential
to affect soils and hence productivity, especially on soils most prone to acidification.
Afforestation itself causes
soil acidification so that mutually reinforcing effects are
possible. These impacts would need to be mitigated if pollution continues.
The influence of increasing atmospheric concentrations of
carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and of potential climate change, and the
interaction with forests, are difficult to understand and predict (see Box 4.12). It is
likely that the forestry sector will need to gear itself to manage such impacts.
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|Box 4.12 Forestry and global change
When trees grow, they take CO2 out of the atmosphere, thus reducing
the amount of this greenhouse gas. But the benefit is only maintained as long as the tree
parts are prevented from decaying or being burned. When this happens, the CO2 is released
Timber production by the South African forestry industry
annually stores carbon equivalent to about 5.8 million tons of CO2. This is less than 2%
of the CO2 generated in South Africa from various sources. Therefore, afforestation does
make a contribution to alleviating the greenhouse effect, albeit a small one. If
afforestation were to be significantly increased, the negative environmental impacts
through water use and loss of natural habitats would need to be weighed against the
advantages of reducing the greenhouse effect.
4.9.6 Atmospheric pollution
In forestry districts, both the forestry operations and the
wood processing plants, contribute to atmospheric pollution. This comes from wild fires in
forests, burning of forest waste and the generation of energy in processing plants from
the combustion of waste wood and coal.
A study in the Eastern Transvaal shows that emissions from
forestry districts, are the most important source of atmospheric pollutants locally.
However, the amounts of pollution per square kilometre are very small when compared to,
for example, the Eastern Transvaal Highveld (2-5% of emissions on the Highveld, except for
Back to Contents
This appendix on the state of forestry in South Africa has
been written to give a background to the participative process of developing new policy.
It is a short statement of facts, assembled quickly, reflecting a diverse range of views
and experience. It was designed to indicate how the history of forest and other policies
of the country have determined the course of development in the sector, as well as showing
how economic, social and environmental factors have played their part in this.
Views presented at the National Forestry Policy Conference
at the World Trade Centre on 2 and 3 March 1995 have also been captured, as best possible
within the constraints of time and the need to limit the length of this document.
This background justifies the policy and strategy options
outlined in the first part of this discussion paper. We now need to look forward. It is
the policy options, and the issues they address, which must be the subject of comment and
There has not been an overview of this kind in South Africa
for many years. We have learnt much in the task of putting it together. Clearly, there are
many deficiencies in our knowledge and understanding of the many issues at stake here.
Hopefully, the process of formulating and implementing the new forest policy will
stimulate debate and research that will continue to improve our understanding of the
management of forests, woodland, and plantation resources in the country, and improve the
design of the policies needed to sustain these resources.
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