Monday, 20 July 2020
Smallholder certification in South Africa
A milestone for smallholder certification has been achieved in the midst of difficult times with the coronavirus pandemic and increased unemployment in South Africa.
Approximately 80% of South Africa’s commercial plantation forests are FSC certified, mostly held by large and medium scale organisations. FSC in South Africa has struggled to expand certification and the associated benefits to small growers, which represent approx. 3.5% of plantation area.
Mondi Zimele, established in 2007, provides support to employment creating small businesses within the Mondi value chain and surrounding communities, including forestry development support to emerging land owners and small growers.
Mondi Zimele has been on their journey towards FSC FM certification for several years. The organisation supports community members in traditional areas with Plantation Forestry woodlots, which feeds timber into the local Mondi Mill. They were supported by the FSC Africa Regional Director and the FSC Smallholder Fund Project between 2014 -2016 in raising FSC awareness and developing local capacities within the affected communities in Kwazulu Natal. The project was later supported by the FSC Southern Africa during 2017 -2020 via the provision of technical expertise in understanding the requirements of the recently approved National Forest Stewardship Standard (NFSS) for South Africa and the use of the Type 2 Model within the Group Scheme Standard.
In June 2020, Mondi Zimele contracted CMO South Africa to implement the requirements of the NFSS for South Africa. CMO has developed user-friendly software, allowing smallholders and forest managers to easily capture their information and manage their impacts. Five small growers within a traditional community in northern Zululand were certified under the CMO Group Scheme certificate, covering approx. 100 hectares. The area is expected to expand during the course of July and August to include at least 20 more small growers.
FSC has faced increased criticism in recent years from local stakeholders regarding the complexity and relevance of our standards for smallholders. This milestone will assist with increasing the awareness of the adaptability and simplicity of FSC certification for smallholders within the South African forestry context.