EC DEDEAT joins DFFE in handing plantations to empower local communities

The Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) joined the Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and the Environment (DFFE) on 30 and 31 January 2024 to hand over plantations in Centane and Mqanduli.

The ceremonies, led by Deputy Minister Makhotso Sotyu, were marked by significant activities promoting sustainable forestry management and community empowerment.

The handovers, held at Nontshinga Sports Grounds in Centane and Mxambule Sports Ground in KwaNtlangaza, Mqanduli, included plantation tours, ceremonial tree planting, and the official handover of signed community forestry agreements (CFAs). The plantations, primarily consisting of eucalyptus, play a pivotal role in advancing the transformation agenda outlined in the forestry master plan.

The initiative seeks to empower local communities residing near these plantations, facilitating their effective management of these assets and encouraging meaningful participation in the market. DEDEAT, as a government entity closely connected to the communities, provides technical support to plantation communities, focusing on cycad plants found among the gumtrees. The department also acts as a link between DFFE and the communities, ensuring seamless engagement.

During the handover ceremonies, Makhotso Sotyu expressed the government’s commitment to training communities in plantation management. She revealed ongoing discussions with potential investors interested in the industry, with a focus on producing eucalyptus oil and exploring other valuable products. Sotyu emphasised the substantial potential of this initiative to alleviate unemployment and poverty in rural communities.

DEDEAT teams in the respective regions played a central role in planning the handovers, participating in pre-event activities, and showcasing the department’s services during the ceremonies. The collaborative effort between DEDEAT, DFFE and other stakeholders underscores a commitment to the district development model towards sustainable forestry practices, community empowerment, and economic growth in the Eastern Cape.