Ozwathini – Community forest certification

September 21, 2015


This film shows the challenges faced by a community of small-scale plantation owners in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa, as they look to get certified under the Forest Stewardship Council using an innovative approach that seeks to certify the landscape.


Gilbert Plant, development forester from the SANBI Grasslands Programme, is working towards getting the Ozwathini landscape certified.


Bongani Pharma is a successful small grower from Ozwathini. He sells his timber to NCT and his bark to UCL and he employs 30 local people. FSC certification would enable him to receive an extra R18 per tonne, which would vastly improve his business and the local economy.


Many people in Ozwathini live off the land – they maintain subsistence vegetable gardens and small plantations – like Mrs Mbanjwa, seen here with Gilbert Plant.

mrs mbanjwa

Mrs Mbanjwa sells timber from her two small plantations, but she also uses it for firewood (to cook with) and for building fences and houses. Timber is key to her family's survival, yet certification is difficult to attain.

Ozwathini is surrounded by rare grasslands and lush indigenous forests. The small plantations ensure that locals don't need to harvest indigenous trees for cooking and building.


An innovative approach to certification is needed for cases like this, where forestry is sustainable, responsible and key to survival.

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