Sustainable forestry management pilot projects with small growers

Improving biodiversity awareness and consideration among small and emerging plantation owners was one of the three main streams of work of the SANBI Grasslands Programme forestry component. This was undertaken in different ways to address biodiversity management and conservation related, but context-specific issues in several different pilot projects (see below).

The successful pilot projects gained increasing momentum towards the second half of the Grasslands Programme’s 5-year project period (which closed at the end of 2014). Small growers are an important part of the forestry sector’s future biodiversity strategy. It is encouraging to see that the forestry industry is, under its own initiative, continuing the work begun by the Grasslands Programme (for instance in a new project developed by Forestry South Africa in partnership with the WWF and through GEF 5). This is the ultimate goal of biodiversity mainstreaming and is an indication of successful intervention on the part of the forestry component of the Grasslands Programme.


  • A film called about forest certification in a multifunctional landscape of Ozwathini. This film shows the opportunities and challenges faced by a community of plantation owners in Kwazulu-Natal in South Africa as they look to get certified under the Forest Stewardship Council using an innovative approach that seeks to certify the landscape. Watch and ‘Like’ the film on YouTube at
  • A film showcasing the Ozwathini fire protection project that has provided both equipment and training for community members to burn firebreaks that protect their plantations and that prevents runaway wildfires from endangering people, homesteads and biodiversity-rich patches of grassland. Watch it and ‘Like it’ on YouTube at or find it on the SA Forestry Magazine website at
  • Grasslands news story on “Short Film Showcases The Ozwathini Fire Protection Project”


  • A film called “Isiphuku Kungutshani (The Grass is the Blanket)” about the people of the Mabandla community in the foothills of the southern Drakensberg who are developing a vision for the sustainable use of their traditional lands: there are cattle, commercial timber plantations, pristine grasslands and pockets of indigenous forest.
  • Grasslands news story on ‘The Grass Is Our Blanket’ Highlights the Innovative Umgano Community
  • The Umgano community livestock initiative case study also describes the community spatial zoning of 1500 hectares of plantations.


  • A case study on the public-private cooperative effort at Izanqawe entitled Forestry, fire and biodiversity at Izanqawe: the Izanqawe Case Study
  • The Izanqawe Land Reform Project outlined on page 17 of the Proceedings of the Land Reform & Biodiversity Stewardship Initiative Learning Exchange, 20 – 21 February 2013, titled Biodiversity Stewardship Unlocking the Rural Economy.