Water stewardship projects

Case Study Water

Wetland function, conservation and rehabilitation are major areas of interest within forestry, with numerous research projects and studies being conducted at any one time. Here is where we showcase how some of these projects are making a difference to the way we conserve wetlands.

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Evaluating wetlands


KwaZulu-Natal’s Mgeni water catchment is one of South Africa’s most developed and productive system, producing a mean annual run-off of 732 million cubic metres and supplying more than 3.5 million people with the water. The Karkloof catchment feeds into the Mgeni system and is home to a number of rare ecological biomes, fertile soils and an array of flora and fauna including endangered and endemic species.

Approximately 170 hectares of the catchment is owned and managed by Sappi, a company dedicated to water stewardship. The transformation here has been dramatic, with over 70 hectares of plantation trees removed from this catchment in an effort to restore balance in the adjacent natural wetlands.

Sappi has gone further and commissioned a number of wetland studies by independent experts. Click here to read about their findings and how this is steering Sappi’s wetland restoration efforts across all their plantations.

Case study compiled: 2018
Source: Forestry Explained

Restoring Tsitsikamma's wetlands

MTO Group

The plantations around Tsitiskamma are some of the oldest in the country, established during a period of mass tree planting by the South African Government between 1917 and 1939. With little thought as to the ecological implications, many of these were established on wetlands. Fast forward almost a century and we can now fully understand the impact of wetlands degradation has on water security and ecosystem function. This is why the forestry industry as a whole is attempting to undo the damage.

MTO’s Lottering and Witelsbos plantations are in the process of being transformed, with the help of the Government’s Working for Wetlands programme. The project has seen the removal of alien species which are often highly invasive and compete with indigenous flora. A process is under way to address the historical damage by plugging drains and reducing the impact of erosion and poorly placed roads.

In just over a decade (2005-2018), more than R11 million has been spent restoring wetlands on MTO forestry land, as well as that of neighbouring communities. Click here to find out just how they have gone about this mammoth task.

Case study compiled: 2018
Source: Forestry Explained

A minnow's tale

York Timbers

Despite its unassuming features, the Treur River Barb has an amazing story to tell. This fish surprised scientists by “coming back from the dead” as it was once threatened with extinction. Native to a small area on the Blyde and Treur rivers, the barb has found a champion in the form of forestry. Mondi, the initial landowners, choose conservation over recreation by declaring the portion of river inhabited by these fish out of bounds. It went further to establish the Blyde River Nature Reserve.

Now York Timbers have taken up the gauntlet. Their land now includes both river systems, making them the proud custodian of the barb. York has initiated a census project which is set to uncover the true state of the Treur River Barb’s population, some 40 years after the last proper census was conducted.

Click here and find out why, in order to save a minnow, they first had to rescue a river!

Case study compiled: 2017
Source: Forestry Explained

WWF-Mondi Wetlands Programme


2016 marked a huge milestone, the 25th year of in wetland conservation in South Africa. The World Wildlife Fund and Mondi have partnered together for a quarter of a century. The WWF-Mondi Wetlands Programme (WWF-MWP) is on the of country’s longest running privately funded wetland conservation programmes, credited for moving wetlands to the forefront of conservation.

Since inception, the WWF-MWP taken the wetland conservation message and presented it on national and international stages, raising awareness about the dire state of our wetlands to the ‘next generation’ of conservationists and politicians. It has been instrumental in the delineation and rehabilitation of wetlands, as well as creating the legal framework needed to protect them. The WWF-MWP, which has provided a support structure around which the wetlands focused community has been built, was also the catalyst for the Working for Wetlands initiative.

Click here to find out more about the future of this initiative.

Case study compiled: 2016
Source: Forestry Explained