MTO is committed to look after the environment of which we are custodians. One of our core focus areas is the identification and careful management of the risks relating to and impacting the environment. We recognise that personal involvement and commitment of all employees is essential to achieve this.
Caring for Our Environment
All new developments and changes in land use are subjected to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) according to the standard set by the Department of Environmental Affairs or verified for impacts internally through screening assessments.
All plantation activities are subject to a Bi-annual Environmental Audit after which findings are managed through specific action plans. Unplanted areas are managed through Conservation Management Plans (CMP), based on a vegetation mapping standard developed for the South African forestry industry.
Unplanted areas are then divided into management units with specific prescriptions that will also provide for the conservation of rare and endangered species. Where necessary, protected species are actively monitored and managed, in order to ensure their survival. Results of these studies are incorporated into the Conservation Management Plans. Sites of historical and cultural significance are recorded and management of these sites is regulated through the annual plans of operation.
Managing Environmental Impacts
Responsible Chemical Usage
We are very aware of the potential negative impact of Chemical Usage in the environment. In order to ensure that we minimise damage when using chemicals is necessitated, we only use chemicals that are tested and approved by the South African Timber Industry Pesticide Working Group (TIPWG}. The effects of these products have been thoroughly tested to determine impact on the environment. The products together with detailed application directions are available on the TIPWG website ( www.tipwg.co.za ).
MTO is committed to responsible forestry. Weed eradication and management of alien invasive species forms part of a holistic approach. We manage for environmental protection and have long term plans to remove alien plants and open up river systems.
MTO plantations are interlinked and intertwined with natural indigenous areas including indigenous forests, fynbos, rivers, wetlands and grassland ecosystems. More than a third of our landholding in the Cape is made up of protected conservation areas. By managing our forestry plantations in a responsible way while also conserving natural indigenous areas within the plantations, MTO enhances biodiversity while creating an economically viable enterprise.
Water Quality Monitoring
MTO Group is an active partner in protecting and rehabilitating the wetlands. Wetlands contribute substantially to the improvement of water quality by removing sediment and excessive nutrients, reducing flow velocity, regulating stream flow, and assisting with groundwater recharge and discharge. Wetlands also provide habitats for a diverse assortment of wetland-dependent species. Their rehabilitation will aid in water provision and improved ecological corridors.
MTO Cape is the implementing agent for the Working on Wetlands program. Working for Wetlands is a government initiative to provide work to unemployed local communities through the rehabilitation of wetland systems. This initiative has environmental and people benefits. The wetlands provide environmental benefits to the environment while also creating local work opportunities and enterprise development opportunities for the local community. MTO has been actively involved in the implementation of this program since 2008.