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The challenge of balancing sustainable industry with environmental conservation is complex, and one which requires constant consideration and effort. The forestry industry in Mpumalanga is potentially facing a similar situation as Zimbabwe, where one third of the forestry industry’s plantations are adversely affected by the uncontrolled impact of baboons on commercial plantations.

The forestry industry in South Africa has been experiencing baboon damage on its plantations for over 45 years. In the Mpumalanga escarpment area the first incidence of baboon damage to commercial plantations was recorded in the early 1970s.  Essentially, specific baboon troops strip the bark off trees of all ages. This causes trees to die, wood deterioration and tree deformity.

While forestry companies in South Africa have always accepted a degree of damage of this nature, there has been an alarming increase of baboon damage to commercial plantations in recent years. This threat to the sustainability of the timber industry at large requires a more comprehensive and pro-active approach.  

Several thousand hectares of plantations in the Mpumalanga escarpment area have now been affected by baboon damage, resulting in losses of tens of millions of rands. Timber primarily grown for the sawmilling industry is currently worst affected.  Forestry companies are currently engaged in baboon damage assessments to enable them to quantify the extent of the problem.

The Baboon Damage Working Group (BDWG) serves as a forum where Interested and Affected Parties convene in an attempt to find suitable management options to limiting the problem.  The BDWG is made up of representatives from affected timber producers in Mpumalanga, Regulatory authorities and environmental NGOs. The BDWG has been coordinating and facilitating research into attempting to understand this damaging behaviour.  A representative stakeholder group participates in and influences this process.  An annual stakeholder session serves to enhance interaction between all parties.

BDWG and Stakeholder meetings PDF Print E-mail

Tuesday 19th November, 10:00, Sabie Country Club

(Baboon Damage Working Group Meeting)

Wednesday 20th November, 09:30, Sabie Country Club

(BDWG Stakeholder Workshop)