To optimise the land resources of the group in a manner that promotes the primary objective of forestry
PG Bison has a clear focus on sustainability with various initiatives throughout its vertically integrated supply chain. At its forestry operations in the northeastern Cape initiatives include silvo-pastoral activities. Located in South Africa’s northeastern Cape, PG Bison’s North East Cape Forest (NECF) landholding is surrounded by private agriculture and traditional communities. This division’s main business is commercial forestry, supplying sawlogs and pulp fibre to PG Bison’s state-of-the-art particleboard factory in Ugie, as well as to various sawmills.
With PG Bison, being a raw material producer growing timber and a diversified industrial supplier of timber products, various aspects of sustainability form part of its supply chain, from managing the land on which the trees grow, sustainable and responsible forestry practices and community involvement through to production and logistics management. Sustainability practices have been inculcated into the business, yet, with its presence in multiple locations, a one-size-fits-all approach would not work, due to the diverse nature of the physical and social environments.
over raw materials mitigates against supply constraints
and price pressure
Controlling raw material resources
Responsible management of raw material supply to ensure sustainability
Responsible management of natural resources
All commercial forestry activities (planting, weeding, harvesting and transport) are managed in accordance with the South African Forest Industry’s Best Practice and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) management principles.
All non-commercial forestry areas have been mapped, using a vegetation mapping standard developed for the South African forestry industry. Records include information on fauna and flora, rare and endangered species and areas of special interest (ASIs). These ASIs are of cultural, historical and archaeological interest, or have outstanding natural features, all of which are protected in terms of the company’s forest management plan.
Land use and biodiversity
The NECF landholding is classified as a mosaic plantation. Unlike the norm where large areas of land are planted with trees, the Ugie forests consist of smaller patches, spread out across the entire land area. Of the 76 400 hectares of land owned, 33 200 hectares are afforested. The rest of the land consists of either protected wetlands or is being used for other land activities.
The areas not suitable for commercial forestry are used for cattle farming. NECF has a registered Nguni stud and more than2 900 cattle. Where land borders on certain local communities, PG Bison provides grazing to the local cattle owners. Several species of animals, previously common to the area, have been re-introduced, while other species like the Cape Grysbok, have immigrated naturally.
Although the game is not commercially managed, their presence forms part of an integrated environmental management plan. Species now include, among others, Burchell’s Zebra, Blesbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Southern (Common) Reedbuck, Grey Rhebuck, Grey (Common) Duiker, Bushbuck and Black Wildebeest.
Results and benefits
Recording the data and implementing the standardised conservation management plans for NECF’s plantations ensure the sustainable management of forestry land, coordinate longterm plantation management actions and prioritise long-term planning. It also provides a schedule for the eradication of alien vegetation and conservation burning.
The recorded ASIs on NECF landholdings include palaeontological sites, archaeological sites, historical sites, structures, buildings and ruins, caves, waterfalls, vegetation that has historical interest, graves and riparian special management zones.
No ASI may be destroyed or altered in any way. Where possible, areas of special conservation significance have been awarded natural heritage site status. These areas are managed and monitored in accordance with NECF’s conservation plans. Where needed, areas are maintained through weeding operations scheduled in the annual plans of operation.
The aim of establishing a commercial cattle herd forms part of a holistic fire prevention strategy where grazing reduces fuel loads in the areas between the planted trees. Ultimately the maintenance of certain areas to feed crops can provide the dual benefit of sustaining a commercial herd, while at the same time providing effective fire breaks. The long-term goal is for the herd to provide an additional income stream.
Through its long-standing partnerships and trusted relationships with neighbouring communities, management has reduced the number of fires emanating from surrounding communities.