Mondi and Sappi plantations in Zululand, South Africa


Pine and eucalyptus plantations have been established in parts of Zululand to supply wood to pulp mills situated at Mandeni (Sappi Tukela), Stanger (Sappi Fine Paper), Felixton (Mondi), and Richards Bay (Mondi).

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Basic Data
NameMondi and Sappi plantations in Zululand, South Africa
CountrySouth Africa
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Deforestation
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Invasive species
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsTree plantations in this province cover approximately 250 000 hectares, providing mainly pulpwood to 6 pulp and paper mills.

Project Area (in hectares)250000
Level of Investment (in USD)0
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationthousands more
Start Date1990
Company Names or State EnterprisesMondi from Austria
Sappi from South Africa
Relevant government actorsDept of Water Affairs , Dept of Forestry , Dept of Environment Affairs , Dept of Trade and Industries , Industrial Development Corporation
International and Financial InstitutionsForest Stewardship Council (FSC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersIsolemvelo community environmental group (ICEG), Timberwatch Coalition
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Community awareness raising through workshops and information resources based on extensive observation and research.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Fires, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Genetic contamination
OtherSoil acidity increased and loss of natural soil microorganisms and topsoil.
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
OtherPlantation work is generally dangerous and unhealthy due to poor working conditions and exposure to heat, rain, toxic chemicals, fumes from machinery etc.
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence
OtherOne of the worst problems is the contract labour system which allows plantation owners to use temporary or part-time workers and not be responsible for providing benefits such as housing, medical aid etc. while paying extremely low wages.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
A transformation of the land ownership and management scenario with full restoration of land to local communities as a solution.
Development of AlternativesDifferent land-use models designed to convert monoculture tree plantations into mixed species continuous cover forestry operations.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite government promises to rectify bad decisions of the previous regime, it continues to support and to subsidise the establishment of industrial timber plantations that displace local communities, destroy biodiversity, and undermine sustainable economies in favour of corporate profits.
Sources and Materials

Forest Act

Land Act

Water Act

National Environmental Management Act (NEMA)


- A Study of the Social and Economic Impacts of Industrial Tree Plantations in the KwaZulu - Natal Province of South Africa by Blessing Karumbidza -
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- Preliminary report: THE SOCIAL IMPACTS OF CERTIFIED TIMBER PLANTATIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THE IMPLICATIONS THEREOF FOR AGROFUEL CROPS - available as a pdf file (1,3MB) impacts of certified timber plantations in South Africa - TW(2).pdf
[click to view]


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Media Links

Illegal Timber Plantations - A Growing Problem in South Africa
[click to view]

Timberwatch produced video -

Other CommentsVisit for links to video presentations on various aspects of monoculture tree plantations.
Meta Information
ContributorWally Menne
Last update08/04/2014