Raising the Stakes: Impacts of privatisation, certification and partnerships in South African forestry
Forestry is a good, if risky, business in South Africa. A handful of private companies, together with government, have dominated a commercial forestry sector based on plantations. Today, world market trends are causing companies to focus on what they do best, and to outsource everything else. Government is privatising its plantations and is pursuing policies aimed at empowering formerly marginalised people. This means that forestry is changing fast. Forest certification is one response to change, and is helping some companies who were already practicing reasonable management, to make further improvements and consolidate their reputations. Another response is to run outgrower schemes. These have been quite good for company business, and have also improved community livelihood assets, but have not yet pulled poor people out of poverty.This report is based on the findings of some 20 sub-studies and widespread consultation in South Africa. It argues that current trends in South African forestry will not miraculously combine to produce a balance of economic efficiency, environmental sustainability and social empowerment. For such a balance to be achieved, a strong vision needs to be generated and spread - involving a new pattern of ownership with an increase in the numbers of medium and small-scale players.