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Post: Welcome to Focus on Forestry, welcome to Karkloof

welcome
Sappi has seven declared nature reserves on its landholdings. Credit Sappi.

Welcome to Focus on Forestry, welcome to Karkloof

Situated at around 1,000m above sea level, the breathtaking Karkloof landscape, with its magnificent indigenous forests, commercial plantations, sprawling grassland, waterfalls and streams, is a paradise for trail runners and cyclists. It is also the hub of Sappi’s Trails Programme and Midlands forestry operations.

W hat started out in 2011 as a risk management exercise to ensure the safety of riders, walkers and runners on Sappi’s working plantations has developed into the crown jewel of the Sappi Trails Programme.

Trails and Tourism
As custodian of the trails, the Karkloof Country Club has established a world-class network of more than 250km of pristine trails that are consistently voted ‘Top Trails’ in the country by Tread Magazine.

Word has spread, and the area attracts visitors who combine a meander in the Midlands with their love of the outdoors and running or cycling the trails. A 2017 Tourism KZN study showed that the Karkloof Classic Trail Festival event alone created a combined direct and indirect economic impact of R234 million for the area.

Recent follow-up studies by Sappi and uMngeni Tourism confirm that the superbly maintained trails are a huge drawcard and deliver shared value and social impact, benefiting neighbouring communities by an estimated annual spend of R189 million and creating an impressive 513 direct jobs in related tourism businesses.

Sappi Midlands
Shafton and De Magtenburg plantations make up Sappi’s Karkloof East plantations. Sappi bought the Shafton plantation, home to the spectacular 105m high Karkloof Falls, in 1938. De Magtenburg includes a portion of the Karkloof Nature Reserve, one of seven biodiversity-rich proclaimed nature reserves Sappi protects in KZN and Mpumalanga.

There are 156 important conservation areas (ICAs), adding up to about 38,320 ha of diverse habitats, including grasslands, wetlands, riverine areas and natural forest patches in Sappi’s landholdings.

welcome
The endangered Karkloof Blue butterfly

Butterfly and Cranes
The Karkloof area is home to the highly endangered Karkloof Blue butterfly. Sappi manages a site on its land for its survival.

It is also the breeding grounds for South Africa’s three crane species – the blue crane, grey crowned crane and the wattled crane. The birds can be observed from the bird hide at the Karkloof Conservancy Centre, adjacent to the club and the Shafton Wetland.

Adjoining the Karkloof East plantations is Umvoti South, which comprises the Clan and Windy Hill plantations covering an area of 12,634ha, with 82% planted to eucalyptus. Between harvesting and silviculture activities at Karkloof and Umvoti, close to 500 contractor employees work in the Sappi operations area.

Clan Nursery
Sappi’s vast state-of-the-art 26,4ha Clan Nursery employs 180 people and supplies genetically improved seedlings for its plantations in the area. Clan began operations in 2011 with a capacity of 7 million cuttings, which increased to 10 million in 2013.

Over the past decade, several projects increased the nursery’s annual capacity to 18 million cuttings. There are four rooting tunnels nurturing 2.4 million cuttings and five hedge camps with a holding capacity of 1.1 million mother plants that are harvested or trimmed every two weeks. The 70 grow-out camps have a holding capacity of 118,000 seedlings. The next phase will grow the annual capacity to 20 million cuttings and expand the nursery to 27.3ha.

Sappi shaw rearch and seed centre
The Sappi Shaw Research Centre was established 38 years ago. It accommodates the highly qualified multi-disciplinary team of specialists conducting extensive research to develop and monitor genetically improved planting stock.

Tree improvement increases the pulp yield produced per hectare by developing and testing various species and hybrids across Sappi’s diverse landholdings. As well as growth improvements, trees are bred for superior wood properties and resistance to biotic and abiotic threats, including frost, drought, pests and diseases.

The Shaw facility also houses the Sappi Seed Centre. Seeds are harvested from genetically superior trees from hundreds of seed orchards, carefully screened and selected for desired traits by Sappi’s hardwood and softwood breeding programmes. The world-renowned genetically improved pine and eucalypt seeds are supplied to Sappi and sold to local and international customers.

welcome
The Sappi Clan Nursery is in Karkloof.

Welcome
Sappi welcomes Focus on Forestry conference speakers, delegates, exhibitors and visitors to Karkloof. Take a moment from your busy schedules to enjoy the landscape, biodiversity and good company.

Source: WoodBiz Magazine
(Pages 3-4)

 

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