You cannot grow trees in a desert, not enough of them to sustain an industry. The sites that host tree farming are not chosen randomly, but selected for their quality environments that feed and nurture the towering giants of the plant world. This means companies such as MTO Forestry are joined at the hip with places of deep natural beauty and splendour. We use those places to our advantage, but with this comes the responsibility and respect those places demand. Forestry companies are also nature’s custodians.

This is something we take very seriously at MTO Forestry, and why we place a lot of focus on nature conservation and elevation. A great example of this is our effort to secure the rare ghost frog. More amphibians face the threat of extinction than most other species of animal or plant, which is even more depressing when one considers how long they have been here. The ghost frog is a perfect example, arriving on the scene 160 million years ago – 10 million years before even birds took flight.

Ghost frog colonies have been discovered in the rivers found among MTO’s forest holdings. Since 1999, MTO has been funding research around these colonies. But under the leadership of our Group CEO Lawrence Polkinghorne, we have introduced numerous new policies and regulations to safeguard the ghost frog’s habitats inside our plantations.

These actions include:Drastically reducing activities around river (riparian) zones during the ghost frog’s breeding season;

  • Prohibiting any new roads to be built near river systems;
  • Preparing road surfaces prior to harvesting activities to ensure a minimum amount of silt runoff, which has proven to stagnate breeding;
  • Establishing buffer zones around rivers and using only frog-safe chemicals to remove invader plants. Blanket spraying is no longer allowed near rivers;
  • Careful coordination and planning of both harvesting and de-weeding to maintain stable environments and avoid erosion situations that gunk up rivers;
  • Educating employees and contractors about the frogs and the efforts to secure their environments; and
  • Ongoing study and monitoring of the frog colonies.


The damage done to nature is all due to humanity’s failure to realise our impact and to give back where we take away. But only a fool believes they live on an island: we are all part of the same system. One tree does not make a forest. For true prosperity, we must respect the places that deliver prosperity in the first place. Even a little frog has a place in the big picture, and it is our responsibility to make sure its place stays secure.