Eastern Cape communities receive forestry plantations

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Makhotso Sotyu has handed over forestry plantations to communities in Mount Fletcher in the Eastern Cape as part of government’s efforts to transform the economy and create jobs.

“The transfer of the management of these plantations will go a long way to improve the livelihoods of the Batlokoa and Makhoba communities. This will also create jobs and I would like to urge the youth and women to seize this opportunity,” she said on Thursday.

The combined extent of these plantations is approximately 362.31 hectares.

The management of Lehana and Fort Usher plantations were handed over to the Batlokoa community while the management of Makhoba plantation was handed over to Makhoba community.

The handing over of these plantations is in line with the provisions of the National Forests Acts (NFA), 1998 (Act No.84 of 1998).

“Forestry is one of the leading sectors in our economy that has the capacity and capability to continuously contribute to the growth of this country. As part of the initiatives to support that growth, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has been leading a process to develop the forestry sector’s Masterplan,” Sotyu said.

The Masterplan – which focusses mainly on interventions that will improve investments and transformation in the sector – includes the transfer of plantations to allow government to focus on policy and regulation of the sector in efforts to let it strive.

The Plan was approved in 2020 to ensure transformation, growth and development in the sector. 

The transferring plantations agreement is the outcome of discussions between the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure with several municipalities to facilitate that all lease-expired state land, should be recommissioned back for forestry commercial plantations.

“The historic handover supports government priority of economic transformation and job creation as proposed by the Forestry Master Plan, which aims to ensure inclusive growth and transformation while attracting the necessary investment to develop the sector, creating economic and employment opportunities in especially rural areas. The Plan balances environmental, economic and social benefit from the forestry resources,” the Department said.

The Deputy Minister said her department will provide the necessary support that is required to make these plantations a viable business in the future.

“The department will work with the affected communities to develop a plan that will ensure the management of these resources in a sustainable manner going forward,” Sotyu said.

Where feasible, the communities will be linked with interested industry role-players in a fair and transparent manner.

“These industry role-players should be viewed as strategic partners who will then assist with additional expertise and resources to recapitalise plantations. This will be their contribution as part of the Masterplan, and we hope that they will assist when they are called to in this regard.

“Negotiations and discussions as well as the associated processes are often protracted and complex, but ultimately, we have reached the goal of empowering our communities,” the department said. –SAnews.gov.za

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