The development potential and impacts of commercial eucalyptus woodlots in selected areas of KwaZulu, South Africa.
Cellier, Guy Anthony.
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This thesis is an analysis of the social, economic and ecological impacts of commercial Eucalyptus woodlots beign promoted by a private timber company in certain parts of northern KwaZulu, South Africa. The impacts are considered from the perspective of the rural farmers themselves via a qualitative methodology consisting of semi-structured, in-depth individual interviews and focus group discussions. The results of the study show that these woodlots would offer only supplementary income to the majority of the growers. There is little opportunity cost in terms of land or labour, and ecological impacts can be minimised through a programme of education and responsibility on behalf of the company. However, the growers involved feel alienated from the whole tree-growing process occurring on their land. The potential for rural development and empowerment does exist, but will require a fundamental paradigm shift and long-term commitment on the part of the company promoting the woodlots. Commercial woodlots have an important role to play in the 'new' South Africa by showing that the aspirations of the rural poor need not be compatible with the profit-orientated motives of private companies. A model is proposed which consists of training, strengthening existing institutional structures, and initiating ongoing, on-farm research. Following such a model would allow commercial woodlots to form part of an appropriate social forestry land-use system for the region.