skip to content

Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)


Commercial and subsistence agriculture, commercial forestry and other extensive forms of human development now dominate many landscapes. Even the best network of protected areas cannot ensure the survival of all species and their associated ecosystem services.

Mondi logoThis means that mitigation measures in production landscapes, especially those containing extensive agriculture and forestry plantations, are required. Ecological networks (ENs) are one mitigation solution that include quality set-aside land, mostly in the form of corridors within production landscapes and are aimed at extending the size of protected areas, maximizing on biodiversity conservation and maintaining of ecosystem processes.

One of the great advantages of good quality ENs, including wetlands, is that they also maintain hydrological processes, and with them, the indigenous biota. ENs add considerable resilience to production landscapes in terms of maintaining biodiversity and all the complex associated processes in South African systems as well as in the face of El Nino Southern Oscillation events and global climate change.

Mondi is working with Professor Michael Samways and his research team at Stellenbosch University in South Africa to identify and manage ENs in their plantation forests. Approximately 25 per cent of Mondi’s land holdings in South Africa are set aside land and would fall into the category of ENs of varying quality. When applied to the commercial forest sector in South Africa the total amount of land set aside for these ENs is approximately 0.5 million hectares, a substantial area of natural habitat for maintaining biodiversity and ecological processes.

The research so far has shown that wide corridors combined with nodes of grasslands, wetlands and forest in ENs are equivalent in terms of biodiversity to that in neighbouring protected areas. The implementation of extensive ENs in South Africa continues to show good results and these ENs are playing a major role in conserving natural resources for future generations.