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A tribute to Keith Cooper: South Africa loses one of its most esteemed conservationists The sudden passing of Keith Cooper on 20th June 2020 has left a void that will be difficult to fill. He worked tirelessly on many fronts and will be greatly missed by all who are passionate about protecting nature and caring for the Earth.

Community leader and eco-activist, who stood against mining at St Lucia, has been murdered  KwaZulu-Natal induna and local councillor Philip Mkhwanazi, was shot dead in a hail of bullets on Monday 25 May. His murder appears to be an assassination, possibly by pro-mining elements in the area, due to his opposition to the mining of sand dunes within the southernmost buffer zone of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a World Heritage Site.

Activists are opposing pine to gum conversion in Mpumalanga due to concerns over the depletion of over-stretched water sources. See also, article by Tony Carnie ‘Big timber accused of unauthorised tree switch’ 16 April 2020

Planet of the Humans is a controversial, hard-hitting documentary released to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. Watch full documentary  produced by Michael Moore and directed by Jeff Gibbs,

What could be wrong about planting trees? is a valuable new resource from WRM. Download  booklet to print or read on line.

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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:

  1. To provide a credible body of informed opinion relating to timber plantations and their impacts.
  2. To ensure that where no alternative land-use is possible that plantations are correctly situated.
  3. To participate in and to monitor research relevant to the subject of timber plantation impacts.
  4. To lobby for balanced strategic land-use plans that prioritise conservation and food security.
  5. To ensure that the highest possible standards in plantation practice are employed and maintained.
  6. To demand the eradication of invasive alien plants that spread from timber plantation areas.
  7. To ensure proper protection of grasslands, wetlands, and forests in timber plantation areas.
  8. To make input to state bodies responsible for approving water use licences for new plantations.
  9. To monitor and raise awareness of the location, extent and impacts of illegal timber plantations.
  10. To document and raise awareness of the impacts of industrial timber processing activities.