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Mondi: balancing productivity and water provision for downstream users

Water is vital to Mondi’s operations for both forestry and processing operations in South Africa, where it is an increasingly scarce resource. If the current supply and demand rates for water persist, South Africa’s water resources will be fully utilised by 2025.

Mondi logoAn estimated 55 per cent of the nation’s wetlands have already been significantly damaged due to a host of land uses including poorly managed agriculture, mining, overgrazing and commercial forestry amongst others. Globally, wetlands are extremely valuable and their degradation is therefore alarming. Mondi, as one of the largest private owners of wetlands in South Africa, is the principal sponsor of the WWF-Mondi Wetlands Programme (WWF-MWP*) and works closely with WWF South Africa and other key stakeholders. The collaboration led Mondi to delineate its freshwater ecosystems and commit to the withdrawal of all commercial plantations from wetland areas and adjacent buffer zones. Further collaboration resulted in an industry-wide commitment to do the same by stripping wetlands of thousands of hectares of incorrectly planted commercial trees. The loss of production, costing the industry approximately $100m per annum, has been compensated by the provision of more water for downstream communities, the establishment (and in many cases restoration) of important biodiversity corridors and the reputational benefits of responsible environmental management.

Mondi’s partnership with the WWF-MWP and collaboration with key stakeholders has considerably reduced its water risks and vulnerability in South Africa. Co-developing better management recommendations and practical science-based procedures have enabled the company to identify and protect freshwater ecosystems. Mondi's active role in freshwater stewardship and long-standing support of the WWF-MWP has helped transform wetland conservation from being a side issue to being a priority, encouraging a change in the way government and communities as well as the commercial forestry and sugar industries manage their wetlands.


*The MWP was launched in 1991 by South Africa's two largest conservation organisations: WWF and WESSA (Wildlife Society of South Africa). Mondi has been the principal sponsor of the MWP since 2001. In 2013/14 the MWP became the WWF-Mondi Wetland Programme and part of the global Mondi-WWF Partnership. 



Dr Gemma Cranston
Senior Programme Manager