Integrating wildlife management and forestry in Zambia
Mbizi Farm in Eastern Zambia is one of those rare businesses that successfully integrates wildlife management with commercial forestry management objectives.
The 17 000ha estate, which employs nearly 50 people from surrounding communities, provides a personalised safari experience to visitors from around the world.
The mixed Mopani woodlands in which the farm is situated contains many tree species that are of significant importance to local communities for their fuel and other needs. Many of these tree species also have significant commercial value and about 2 400 m3 of Mopani, Kiaat, Pod Mahogany and Mukosa timber is harvested annually and processed at the Mbizi Sawmill for the production of export planks and other timber products.
The farm is FSC certified and as such provides assurance that it is managed in a responsible and sustainable manner.
This is a first for the Mopani ecoregion which covers extensive areas in Eastern Africa, and is home to an abundance of wildlife including elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion and many other species.
New machines and technologies have been introduced at Mbizi to ensure low impact selective harvesting of the trees is conducted in terms of forest management plans that allow for the sustainable use of the woodlands and forests. Mbizi is also serving as a model for other local operations to opt for sustainable forest certification through the Afzelia Group Scheme.
Mbizi Farm is traversed by the Luangwa river which is an important water resource for farms and villages across eastern Zambia. Responsible management of this farm ensures that it will continue to provide valuable ecosystem services to surrounding communities.
Mbizi Farm is managed and owned by two Swedes, Michael de Gre-Dejestam and Lennart Packendorff. It is one of the first FSC certificates in Africa, and probably the world, where the management of wildlife is fully integrated with commercial forest management objectives.
KZN forest needs your help
A local artist and environmental NPO are rallying efforts to conserve a rare and shrinking patch of indigenous mistbelt forest on the northern edge of Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, which is under threat from alien plant invasion.
Ferncliffe is the precious remnant of a biome that originally stretched over 2 000 hectares. This magical tangle of vegetation, situated right at the edge of the city’s urban sprawl, is blessed with high rainfall and is often swathed in mist.
Although Ferncliffe is small, it still contains an astonishing diversity of life, ranging from large mammals like bushpig and caracal, to unusual millipedes and amphibians, a species of carnivorous snail, and the enormous monkey-catching crowned eagle. It harbours unexpected, often secretive creatures that dwell in, and depend upon, the profusion of indigenous plants that grow there.
Unfortunately, a tide of alien plants is threatening the ecosystem's survival. This environmental degradation is an enormous problem. Now members of the public are invited to assist efforts to restore the biodiversity of this mist-drenched wonder.
To help fund the registered NPO’s vital work, local fine artist Connor Cullinan is producing a series of original art prints that are sold online as open editions via https://ferncliffe.org. Since 1991, Cullinan has participated in several solo and group exhibitions at a number of respected galleries - these include Obert Contemporary, Erdman Contemporary, Barnard, whatiftheworld and Daor Contemporary. His screenprints have been shown at the FNB Joburg Art Fair, Cape Town Art Fair and Turbine Art Fair. Outside of South Africa, he has showcased his work in Queretaro and Oaxaca in Mexico; his paintings and prints form part of the Nando's permanent collection and are on show in various countries; and his work is held in private collections in Europe and the United States.
His beautifully illustrated images in aid of Ferncliffe are based on the fauna and flora that can be found in the forest and on its fringes. The first two prints in this ongoing series have already been released and were produced at Black River Studio in Cape Town. They depict a tenderly hand-drawn porcupine and the vibrantly yellow Forest Weaver. These art prints make a meaningful acquisition, whether for a formal art collection or to grace the walls of your home.
There are other ways of participating in the restoration of Ferncliff too. You can adopt an existing tree, plant a tree (which comes with an exquisite tree certificate appointing you as an honorary forester), make a straightforward donation, or contribute to unemployment alleviation by sponsoring a day’s wage to clear invasive aliens. Whether it’s for conscious corporate gifting, or a thoughtful gesture for a friend or loved one, you’ll be reaffirming how much the world needs forests, and how much these forests need us…
The NCT Tree Farmer of the Year is awarded annually to tree farming operations that display excellence in sustainable plantation management. Candidates for the award are assessed against broad sustainability principles.
The 2021 winners in the Commercial Tree Farmer category are Brendon Raw and his wife Ninette, who manage their forestry business from a smallholding in the Karkloof in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. They have built up an integrated timber business including 1 000 ha of plantations and a sawmill.
Brendon and Ninette are also enthusiastic conservationists, and have taken on the role of protecting highly sensitive grasslands and wetlands at the headwaters of a major catchment that feeds into the Umgeni River which serves agriculture, industry and rural and urban settlements all the way from the Karkloof to the coast. These grasslands and wetlands are teeming with wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. The conservation areas have been successfully integrated into their highly productive plantation operation which produces sawlogs for their own sawmill and other markets.
NCT Forestry is a leading marketing co-operative catering for the needs of independent timber growers in South Africa. It has 1 800 shareholders/members who collectively own 300 000 ha of timber, which constitutes 21% of afforested land in SA.