Activities and Projects

Certain Timberwatch activities and projects, which include the monitoring of relevant political governance and timber industry behaviour are ongoing, while others, such as our research projects and community workshops, are linked to specific issues, events or target dates.

Raising civil society and government awareness of the actual and potential negative social, economic and environmental impacts of large scale tree plantations and their associated industrial processing is an over-arching objective which requires sustained intensive effort and the committed support and involvement of members, supporters and partners.

Our latest research project was supported by the Siemenpuu Foundation in Finland, and involved a case study that investigated the effects of the establishment of tree plantation carbon sinks in southern Tanzania, focussing mainly on a plantation project of Norwegian-owned company, Green Resources Ltd, at Idete in southern Tanzania. The company planned to obtain 400 000 CDM carbon credits through the planting of nearly 6500 hectares of alien gum and pine tree plantations, and to sell them to the Norwegian government for use as offsets against carbon emissions in Norway.

The research project began with the production of a preliminary report that was completed in time for the United Nations Climate Change meetings held in Copenhagen from 7th - 18th December 2009. During 2010 there was further research, including two field trips to visit the plantation project at Idete. This work resulted in a comprehensive report that also examined the implications of broader issues such as the carbon market, global timber consumption trends, and possible alternative approaches to halting climate change. 

The final report was published in March 2011.

The preliminary report by Blessing Karumbidza and Wally Menne can be accessed HERE.

From 2007 till the end of 2013, Timberwatch served as the NGO focal point in Africa for the Global Forest Coalition (GFC), but has now handed over to NAPE (The National Association of Professional Environmentalists) in Uganda. Timberwatch has co-operated with GFC in the production of relevant research reports since 2002.

The report "Life as Commerce - Certification in South Africa" launched in November 2008, can be downloaded HERE

GFC's Strategic Approach
The main strategic approach of the Global Forest Coalition is to help build the capacity of NGOs, forest dependent local communities and Indigenous Peoples´ Organisations (IPOs) to be able to monitor and to actively influence international forest policy processes as well as support national initiatives to implement the outcomes of international forest policy processes.

A second, complementary strategy is to facilitate joint advocacy campaigns by its members, targeting international forest policy processes to ensure that they promote socially just and ecologically appropriate forest policies that respect the rights and needs of Indigenous Peoples and other forest dependent communities.                               

For more information about the membership, objectives and projects of the Global Forest Coalition, visit their website by clicking the logo                               

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Timberwatch has had a long and fruitful association with the World Rainforest Movement (WRM), an organisation that has been a supportive partner of Timberwatch since June 1998 when a Timberwatch member participated at the first International Plantations Campaign meeting in Montivideo, Uruguay, where the WRM is based.

In 2005 WRM published an important report A Study of the Social and Economic Impacts of Industrial Tree Plantations in the KwaZulu - Natal Province of South Africa by Blessing Karumbidza, and this was followed by

Swaziland: The myth of sustainable timber plantations  by Wally Menne and Ricardo Carrere in March 2007.

WRM focusses on documenting the negative impacts of monoculture tree plantations, and using the accumulated information to produce user friendly educational material in a number of languages. See the recent WRM briefing  Timber Plantations in Southern Africa

For more information about the objectives, projects and information resources of the World Rainforest Movement,   visit their website by clicking this logo                               

Eastern Cape Workshop on Plantations and Pulp Mills

On Saturday 14th February 2009 a workshop was held in East London with assistance from the WESSA Border-Kei Region office who also provided the meeting venue. Participants came from across the Eastern Cape, representing local and national government entities, industry, NGOs, and local communities.

The workshop generated much interest in issues around the topics discussed (see notice below), and some participants expressed an interest in becoming members of Timberwatch and in holding follow-up meetings in the future with a view to establishing a local Timberwatch group. 

This workshop was a part of a campaign supported by the Grassroots Foundation in Germany, to increase awareness of the impacts of pulp mills and plantations in South Africa.

For more information about the Plantations and Pulp Mills awareness campaign go HERE

To download the slideshow presentations made at the workshop in pdf format, and to see the full workshop report click HERE