The challenge of settling forestry claims

On the 17th April 2009 the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights  announced the conclusion of a sale agreement between the State and Mondi to restore total of 13989 hectares of land to seven Community Trusts in the Vryheid area. The land includes planted forest areas as well as open areas valued at a total of R38.7 million.


The Minister reported that a Lease Agreement had been signed with Mondi, which makes provision for the land to be managed by Mondi until such time that the lease agreement expires, and the beneficiaries are in a position to take over the running of the forestry business through the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) established for that purpose. 


The proposed model for settling claims on forest land makes provision for the state to purchase the land for the beneficiaries, excluding the trees.  The community then leases the land to the forestry company for an agreed period which is linked to the rotation of the trees, e.g. 6 10 years, 15 years, or 25 years.  The supply of trees is guaranteed for two rotations with an option for the beneficiaries to buy the trees and do the planting themselves after the first rotation cycle.  The claimants receive financial compensation in lieu of the fact that they will not immediately benefit from the ownership of the trees during the lease period. 


A task team comprising representatives from Government and Forestry South Africa has been established in order to deal with the execution of the framework for settling claims on forest land, as well as to ensure that the interests of the beneficiaries are taken into consideration when settlement agreements are being negotiated.

The challenge now is to give practical effect to these agreements through a process which  involves a mix of  participatory planning, institution development and customised development support.

Posted: 7/16/2009 (6:26:31 AM)

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