Johannesburg, 23 January 2012 ÔÇô New Forests Company (NFC) announced in July 2011 that it had signed a major forest concession agreement with the government of Rwanda which will give the company access to almost 30,000 acres of planted timber and approximately three million tonnes of mature wood.
The agreement, which will last for 49 years, gives NFC the right to harvest up to 12,000ha (30,000 acres) of man-made plantations planted with pine, cypress, eucalyptus and acacia planted as a buffer zone plantation around and outside the Nyungwe National Forest in the southwest of the country. Most of the trees are now fully mature and were planted in the early to mid 1970s. Once the existing timber is harvested, the company will replant most of the land back to commercial plantations under a lease agreement.
The concession relates to man-made forest only and does not affect the natural forest. The buffer zone was planted around the natural forest ÔÇô which is now a national park ÔÇô as a way of protecting the indigenous flora and fauna from human encroachment and illegal logging.
The company plans to establish a series of processing plants to manufacture value added wood products for the local Rwandan and regional East African markets, with particular focus on the construction and house building industries; electricity transmission poles and bio-energy.
NFC will have no operations within the Nyungwe National Forest, one of the last afro-montane forests left in East Africa. NFC is a sustainable forestry company which only exploits man-made forests. The company does not, as a matter of principle, harvest any indigenous forest anywhere in Africa and believes this is a key component of the companyÔÇÖs environmentally sustainable business model.
NFC is committed to conservation and protection of pristine natural environments. In fact, at Nyungwe, there are some small “islands” of plantation that were planted well within the natural forest boundary and once harvested these will be re-established with the local indigenous species in an attempt to revert them back to their natural forest state. Similarly, there may be some plantation areas that are currently growing within wetlands, once harvested, these wetlands will be rejuvenated.