Spreading the goodness with a little help from our friends

Sustainability is more than a buzz word at Sappi. Were invested in nurturing beneficial partnerships that help drive our vision of building a thriving world.

Sappi’s business is one deeply rooted in sustainability, where the future of our industry and the forests we manage are ultimately interconnected. Today, we own and lease 394,000 hectares (ha) of sustainably managed forests in South Africa, with our operations having a far-reaching, knock-on effect for people and planet.

Our commitment to championing healthy forests not only ensures that they’re around for generations to come, but also plays a significant role in safeguarding the environment. Among other things, we depend on forests for clean air and water, providing a refuge for biodiversity, mitigating climate change, supplying raw materials, community upliftment, and, perhaps known to a lesser extent, they’re a haven for honeybees.

Were taking a leaf out of Mother Natures book and ‘bee-friending’ our local allies through partnerships with various beekeeping businesses. One such partnership is in the Lowveld of Mpumalanga with Bee Naked Honey Farms. Bee Naked shares our vision of sustainability, being a producer of raw local honey (distributed under the Eat Naked brand) and provider of pollination services to local farmers in the region.


The raw local honey is distributed under the Eat Naked brand

By allowing Bee Naked Honey Farm beekeepers to place hives in our plantations, were helping to bolster honeybee populations that provide vital pollination services to the region, while their honeybees work their magic benefitting our surrounding environment. But thats not all these busy workers do.


By placing hives in our plantations, we’re helping to bolster
honeybee populations that provide vital pollination services to the region

It’s no secret the massive role these tiny creatures play in our food supply chain. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, macadamia nuts, avocados, litchis, apples, pears, plums, some apricots, almonds, cherries, melons, pumpkins, butternuts, kiwis, onion seed, sunflower seed, carrot and vegetable seed are but a few of the many crops to which we owe thanks to bees.


Fltr: Albert Malope, Tshegofatso Komane, Mike Allsopp and Thandiwe Theko

As Mike Allsopp, Head of Beekeeping at the Agricultural Research Council, explains, “While accurate data is limited, best estimates show that the demand for commercial honeybee pollination is set to increase by 15-20% per year in South Africa. When you consider that there are already not enough managed honeybees to meet SAs pollination demands, coupled with the fact that the amount of foraging territory available to honeybees continues to dwindle, it’s easy to see why this spells trouble for not only our honeybees, but our food supply chain and the complex web of life they support.”

As demand for pollination services continues to grow, it’s clear that every avenue must be explored under a united front if we’re to sustain honeybee colonies. This includes the planting of cover crops in vineyards and other non-pollination dependent crops, the restoration of fallow land, the establishment of woodlots, and the planting of bee-friendly forages in verges and suburbia.


The winter-flowering commercial forestry eucalyptus trees are essential to the
trapping and building of honeybee colonies prior to pollination season

However, according to Allsopp, all these actions will only be enough if were also able to protect and sustain two fundamental enablers of honeybee colony numbers in the country. Namely, the canola fields of the Cape in the late summer and the winter-flowering commercial forestry eucalyptus of the Lowveld and KwaZulu-Natal. These two ‘crops’ are essential to the trapping and building of honeybee colonies prior to pollination season, allowing beekeepers to service the spring pollination needs of berries, macadamias, and all else.

Of the 394,000 ha of Sappi-owned forests in South Africa, 163,000 ha or 63% comprises eucalyptus. Thats roughly 30% of South Africas eucalyptus output. Sappi therefore plays a pivotal role in the sustainability of honeybees and the pollination ‘service’ that they provide.

Without these two ‘pollination enablers’, the production of nearly all commercial crops needing pollination in South Africa would be in serious trouble. It begs the question, are all the key players, including the public, aware of the challenge at hand? We’d all be wise to do what we can to share this message far and wide.

As forests are important to the environment, our business and local communities, honeybees are vital to forest-dwelling fauna and flora, and vice versa. In a nutshell, bees need trees, and trees need bees. By teaming together with like-minded partners, we’re able to play a major part in sustaining honeybee populations, supporting our local honey industry and beekeepers, protecting our forests and, ultimately, having an even greater positive impact through our shared purpose – a thriving future for all.

A bee boost for job creation


Essential work has been created for people from local communities

Besides providing an essential boost to our country’s bee population and the very important work they do; the programme has also created essential work for people from the local Bushbuckridge community in Mpumalanga. Bee Naked Honey Farms currently employs fourteen people; all who were recruited from the local community, with thirteen from Bushbuckridge. Most of them were unemployed and found their first formal employment when they were trained in beekeeping by Bee Naked Honey Farms.


Selby Mokgope, Operational Manager

Operational Manager, Selby Mokgope, resides in Bushbuckridge, where he attended primary and high school in Greenvalley, near Acornhoek. Selby was exposed to chicken farming from a young age and has his own bees. He has been running a chicken farm as a side-line business for many years. He says that work with chickens has given him a better understanding and feel for beekeeping. Selby happily shares his knowledge in empowering younger staff members.


For further information

Zelda Schwalbach
External Communications Lead
Sappi Southern Africa
Tel +27 (0)31 001 7300