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Government has transferred the management of 140 000 ha of
forestland to two operators as part of its ongoing plan to
restructure state-owned forests.
Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Buyelwa Sonjica signed lease
agreements with MTO Forestry as well as Amatola Forestry in this
Under one agreement, Amathole Forest Holdings and its black
economic empowerment (BEE) partner Wildbreak Investment Holdings
will take over the running of 25 000 ha of forest in the Hogsback
and Stutterheim areas of the Eastern Cape.
The other agreement allows MTO to lease approximately 115 015 ha of
state forestland situated in the Western and Southern Cap. The
successful bidder in this regard is BEE-company Cape Timber
Resources, which comprises Cape Sawmills and Wild Peach Investment
Sonjica told reporters in Pretoria yesterday that in terms of the
restructuring agreements, 75% of the new forestry businesses would
be sold while government would retain 25%.
She said 9% would be reserved for Safcol and her department's
staff, 10% would be allocated for future BEE opportunities while
the remaining 6% would be retained by the State for at least five
"These transactions are in line with government's policy of exiting
from direct forest management activities while promoting black
economic empowerment in the forestry industry.
"At the same time, land, which is less suitable for forestry, will
be converted for other uses or reserved for conservation," she
Thus in the Southern and Western Cape, 44 000 ha of marginal State
forest land will be clear felled and handed over for other uses
including conservation (29 000 ha), agriculture (9 000 ha),
community forestry (6 000 ha) and settlement development (200
Sonjica has also assigned management responsibility for the Tokai
Cecilia State forests in Cape Town to SanParks following Cabinet's
decision in 1996 to develop the Cape Peninsula Protected Natural
"Tokai and Cecilia forests (1 001 ha in extent) are located in a
protected environment area and contain important lowland and
mountain fynbos as well as pockets of Afro-montane forest, which
need to be maintained. Eventually the two forests will be
incorporated into the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP)," she
In the interim, Tokai and Cecilia will be managed by MTO in terms
of a 20-year lease during which MTO will gradually clear fell the
area where after it will be released for conservation, said the
"MTO will also make a financial contribution to the initial
rehabilitation of clear-felled areas," she said.
Safcol will also transfer all of its eco-tourism business
activities and personnel at Tokai and Cecilia to SanParks.
These agreements follow two others concluded in 2001 with Singisi
Forests in the Eastern Cape and the Siyaqhubeka consortium in
The department said the major outstanding transaction covering
Komatiland in Mpumalanga was currently awaiting the outcome of a
Competition Tribunal hearing. - BuaNews.