The “White Mountain” Wattle Plantation in Ntabamhlophe: South Africa

In the lee of the “White Mountain” within Ntabamhlope area, wattle trees have been protected and managed for some years by a community of around 350 households. The chief allowed the poorest in the community to use the wood for house construction, “burial logs” which are laid on a coffin to protect it from the soil that is back-filled into the grave. 

In 2000 the community took over and actively managed the roughly 20 hectares of forest, eight volunteers make sure wood is not stolen. Black wattle (Acacia mearnsii), common in South Africa, was initially imported from Australia for industrial use due to its rapid growth and high tannin content. Tannin extracted from the bark is used for curing leather. Black wattle is a thirsty invasive, and environmental rules do not allow the planting of new plantations without a licence issued by government. 

It can be argued that the initiative constitutes a social innovation of a community acting together for a specific purpose without outside help or finance.

UKZN Pietermaritzburg (South Africa), April 2012

MSc student Agronomics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) studies the values rural households attach to forest resources

Stanley Sharaunga of UKZN was motivated to study the values rural households attach to forest resources because of the fact that difficulties have continued to be encountered in sustaining community-based forest management (CBFM) programs in many rural communities of South Africa. The main problem affecting the sustainability of CBFM programs is the limited participation of households in such initiatives. The low household participation in CBFM programs have been attributed to the fact that the values households in most South African rural areas attach to forests are poorly understood for appropriate policy recommendations regarding CBFM programs. A short summary of his study and the outcomes can be found via the following link: Forest values Survey - S. Sharaunga (UKZN).

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