Mashamba Traditional Council set to benefit from 71.92 hectare plantation

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) Makhotso Sotyu has handed over the management of the Mabama plantation to the beneficiary communities of Mashamba Traditional Council in Limpopo.

The handover of the 71.92 hectares plantation aims to empower communities living around the plantations, enabling them to manage the asset effectively and participate meaningfully in the forestry economy.

Addressing the handover ceremony on Tuesday, the Deputy Minister said the transfer of the management of this plantation will go a long way to improve the livelihoods of communities within Mashamba Traditional Council.

The plantation, with predominantly eucalyptus, plays a vital role in sustainable forestry management and is essential for the transformation agenda that is emphasised in the Commercial Forestry Sector Masterplan.

“The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment takes cognisance of the fact that these plantations are not necessarily in a condition that is ideal for timber production purposes and require a lot of work and resources to turn them around.

“I would like to make a commitment on behalf of the department that we will provide the community with the necessary support that is required to make these plantations productive in future.

“It must be noted that these plantations are categorised as woodlots, and 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,” she said.

The department has committed to undertaking initiatives such as site species matching to determine the ideal species that can grow well in this area, provision of technical and advisory support services and training of beneficiaries to empower them with knowledge and skills of sustainable forest management.

“Furthermore, the department can provide seedlings that will be needed to re-establish the plantations. These commitments are further outlined in the post settlement support package that is in the process of being finalised by the department.

“Where feasible, we will also try to link communities with strategic partners who will then assist with additional expertise and resources to recapitalise the plantations. The success of this project depends on the commitment of the communities in ensuring that the land is kept under forestry production,” Sotyu said.

Should a need arise for multiple land use, the department has finalised the piloting of such systems like Agroforestry, which can be employed for such a purpose without reducing the area under forestry.

Best practice guidelines are being developed in this regard for both land users and practitioners. The department has been leading a process to develop the Commercial Forestry Sector Masterplan.

“The masterplan is essentially the growth, investment and transformation plan for the sector.

“The plan was approved for implementation during November 2022. Part of the deliverables of the masterplan is the transfer of plantation resources such that government focuses on policy and regulation, as well as creating an enabling environment for the sector to thrive,” the Deputy Minister said. –