Biodiversity and plantation forestry

The plantation forestry industry contributes about 1.2% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product, with about 70% of production going towards pulp and paper production. Commercial afforestation in South Africa is dominated by exotic species of Pine, Eucalyptus and Wattle. These fast growing species are grown in high rainfall regions along the eastern escarpment of South Africa with most of the plantations located in the Grassland Biome, where forestry is second only to agriculture in terms of commercial land use. In many cases, plantation forestry has replaced naturally species-rich moist grassland vegetation types, with a resultant impact on grassland biodiversity. Additionally, plantation forestry tree species, which can become invasive if not managed properly, use more water than indigenous vegetation and thus impact on water-related services derived from grassland and wetland ecosystems.

To mitigate this impact and improve production practices, the forestry sector has worked actively with partners in the biodiversity sector to mainstream biodiversity into their planning, practices and policies. More than 500 000 ha of natural grassland vegetation areas that remain unplanted lie on estates of plantation forestry companies. Many hectares of this land fall into biodiversity priority areas and thus, through biodiversity stewardship, these areas can (and have begun to) contribute significantly to the conservation of grassland biodiversity.

Click on the links below to learn more about what SANBI and its partners are doing to mainstream biodiversity into forestry:

  • UNDERSTAND: Understand more about why biodiversity is important, the legal case for biodiversity, important definitions and more.
  • ACTION: Find out more about the tools and guidelines available to help you take action in better integrating biodiversity into forestry.
  • BE INSPIRED: Be inspired by what others have done, success stories, news and views, as well as lessons learnt.
  • CONNECT: Connect with organisations, processes or platforms tackling biodiversity mainstreaming issues in forestry areas of South Africa.