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The Timberwatch Coalition is a voluntary alliance of South African non-governmental organisations and individuals concerned about reducing the cumulative negative impacts of industrial tree plantations on people and the environment.
Industrial-scale, monoculture tree plantations lead to the: displacement of rural communities; depletion of crucial water sources in our already water-scarce country; loss of biodiversity; massive degradation of our soil; and – combined with the heavy fuel load of thousands of monoculture trees – increasingly regular and devastating fires.
While claiming it has solutions to CO₂ emissions by portraying plantations as carbon sinks and a source of 'green' bioenergy, the timber, pulp and paper industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. It is the world’s fourth largest consumer of energy, while carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are released during all the manufacturing stages of wood, pulp and paper products.
The industry's massive carbon footprint begins with the destruction of carbon-storing forests, grasslands and other vital habitats in order to establish industrial-scale timber plantations, or when primary forests are used as raw material. This is followed by the burning of fossil fuels for transportation and processing and finally, huge quantities of waste are produced by the mills, added to the mountains of wastepaper products decomposing in landfills and releasing methane.
Aims and objectives
The Timberwatch Coalition functions as a network of NGOs and individuals. Most of the individuals that participate in this network are either volunteers involved with the different NGO coalition partners or individuals who support the aims and objectives of Timberwatch, which are as follows:
- To provide a credible body of informed opinion relating to timber plantations and their impacts.
- To ensure that where no alternative land-use is possible that plantations are correctly situated.
- To participate in and to monitor research relevant to the subject of timber plantation impacts.
- To lobby for balanced strategic land-use plans that prioritise conservation and food security.
- To ensure that the highest possible standards in plantation practice are employed and maintained.
- To demand the eradication of invasive alien plants that spread from timber plantation areas.
- To ensure proper protection of grasslands, wetlands, and forests in timber plantation areas.
- To make input to state bodies responsible for approving water use licences for new plantations.
- To monitor and raise awareness of the location, extent and impacts of illegal timber plantations.
- To document and raise awareness of the impacts of industrial timber processing activities.