Trail festival a celebration of forestry industry community involvement
Karkloof - As thousands of mountain bikers prepare to converge on the
Sappi plantations in the Karkloof for this weekend’s annual Sappi Karkloof
Classic Trail Festival, the forestry giant says the sporting event
showcases some of the successful ways that a commercial timber operation
can extend meaningfully into the lives of the surrounding community.
“The plantations in the Karkloof are a hive of activity on the weekend of
the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival but there are many other ways
that our operation touches the local community, and it is rewarding to see
that many of these have a lasting and valuable impact,” said Sappi's
Communications Manager for Forests, Zelda Schwalbach.
“Sappi grades and maintains the network of dirt roads in the region, that
are widely used by local residents to access their homes and facilities.
We manage and maintain dams for water and fire-fighting purposes, which is
a major asset to the community, particularly in the dry season,” she
“Each plantation has an environmental management plan that ensures that
land is managed in a way that has the least impact on the environment,”
“Trees are planted away from water catchment areas, ground erosion is
avoided, roads are well maintained, timber depots are kept neat and the
utmost safety precautions are taken at all times with harvesting,
silviculture, fire protection and transport activities, safeguarding our
contractor employees but also ensuring that community members are not
endangered in any way.
Schwalbach added that the fun-filled weekend of sporting activity in their
Karkloof plantations was seen as a celebration by the wide network of
staff members involved in the year-round management of the forests, both
directly and indirectly.
Sappi works in partnership with the Karkloof MTB Club to ensure that the
popular network of trails through their plantations is maintained year
round for social and recreational riding, providing an element of sustainable business
for the club and its staff. "This provides direct employment as well as
supporting the local tourism economy," said Schwalbach.
“Sappi provides employment to thousands of people to work in its
plantations and to provide various services,” explained Schwalbach.
“This work is performed by companies that are contracted to Sappi to
provide these services, such as planting, weeding, firefighting,
harvesting, transport, cleaning, maintenance, grading of roads,
construction, etc. In addition, Sappi also purchases various items from
local suppliers such as fertiliser, fuel, vehicles, chemicals, catering
services, and cleaning supplies.
“Sappi buys timber from small growers to supplement the timber they grow
for their own use. These small growers supply about 11% of the required
annual timber needed by Sappi in return for various technical services
(including free seedlings) that Sappi supplies. Sappi also purchases
timber from other commercial farms in the communities, providing a
guaranteed market and a fair price for the timber,” she said.
Sappi provides free grazing to members of the community for their
livestock. Permits for grazing are available from Sappi as long as
community members adhere to a few simple guidelines, which protect the
plantations as well as the environment.
“We really look forward to sharing our plantations with the trail runners,
Enduro and mountain bikers – elite and social riders alike – on the
weekend of the Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival,” said Schwalbach.
“It is part of a year-round commitment to extend the reach of our
operation into as many communities as we can.”
The 2017 Sappi Karkloof Classic Trail Festival takes place at the Karkloof
Country Club on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May 2017.
More info can be found at