22 March 2005

South Africa: Communities Receive Training in Forestry Management

Mafikeng — The North West government has awarded certificates to people involved in some community forestry projects as part of the drive to promote sustainable forestry management.

The members of the projects - four community members and two public servants - are working at woodlots at Ramatlabama and Bethel areas in the province as chain operators.

They received the certificates last week, after undergoing a two-week training to help them implement necessary measures in planting as well as harvesting.

The two forestry plants were established about 17 years ago to provide firewood and other wood products like poles to their communities as well as other potential buyers.

Provincial Water Affairs and Forestry Department spokesperson Evelyn Makapela said the training would help manage and sustain forests to optimise social, economic and environmental benefits.

Ms Makapela said they believed this would increase equity for previously disadvantaged groups to also triumph in the forestry sector.

"This will also promote livelihoods and service benefits of forestry in co-operation with other agencies," she said.

She said this gave practical implementation of the National Forest Act that acknowledged that forest plantations played a critical role in the economy.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has assessed communal woodlots and recommended that they be extended to contribute to economic growth while ensuring sustainable benefits for their communities.

All communal woodlots have since been registered to ensure water conservation in terms of the Water Act.

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