An evaluation of small scale forestry in the Kwambonambi region of KwaZulu-Natal.
South Africa is a country poorly endowed with natural forests, which account for less than 1% of the total land area. Due to the increase in the demand for forest products in the 1970's and 1980's, which could not be met by the natural forests , the two South African pulp and paper giants, Sappi and Mondi, started the Project Grow and Khulanathi schemes respectively. One of their objectives was to encourage rural communities, through financial assistance, to plant trees on their farms for sale to the forestry companies. Planting of trees by farmers on their own land for their economic, social and environmental (reafforestation) benefits is called social forestry . Social forestry should bring economic activity, capacity building and community empowerment. The benefits from social forestry are two dimensional. The growers benefit from the financial assistance and the readily available market provided by the company, while the company satisfies its demand for timber (pulpwood). The primary objective of this study is therefore to identify factors that influence the choice of trees as a land use in communal areas, and to recommend ways of improving benefits accruing to the growers in particular and the community in general. The factors were determined through structured face to face interviews consisting' of both closed and open-ended questions. The results of the study show that the major motivating factor in tree planting is the perceived financial benefits while lack of land is the major limiting factor. Even though tree planting contributes to social upliftment , it was found that there is 'insufficient capacity building, community empowerment and environmental awareness among growers. Cooperatives are recommended as institutions that will enhance growers' participation in tree planting and maximise the grower benefits from trees . As institutions, cooperatives will be better placed to access relevant information in areas such as marketing and have more bargaining power than individual growers. It is further recommended that the afforestation permit system should be reformulated to include permits for communally owned areas.