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July : Tree farmers awarded for excellence

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30 July, 2018

Tree farmers awarded for excellence

Tree farmers awarded for excellence
NCT's 2018 Tree Farmers of the year - Margaret Buyisile Mdunge won in the category
small-scale grower and Jon MacKenzier won in the category commercial grower

NCT FORESTRY announced its tree farmer of the year awards at its AGM in Pietmaritzburg recently.

Jon MacKenzie and Margaret Buyisile Mdunge received this year's tree farmer awards from NCT.  Recognised for their excellence in sustainable plantation management, they are worthy winners of this coveted award.

Jon MacKenzie, from Harding, took top honours in the category commercial grower.  A BCom graduate who developed a passion for forestry and today manages a mixed timber, beef and avocado and vegetable farm.

Exceptional silviculture practices, good site/species selection, effective harvesting and loading operations and a good farming ethic are compliant with all aspects of sustainable plantation management and minimising impacts on the environment.  Open areas on the farm include a small area of grassland, riparian areas and patches of indigenous forests.  His social programme includes upskilling staff and providing seedlings to employees who in turn donate some of their portion to a worthy local cause.

Margaret Buyisile Mdunge, winner in the category small-scale grower, comes from humble beginnings in rural Greytown.  Her family owned a small wattle plantation and it is here where she received her training.  she learned to be farm labourer, supervisor and farm manager. 

Buyisile obtained the farm, Essenwood, from her late husband, who, together with 10 family members, applied for the Settlement & Production Land Acquisition grant.  The grant paid for the deposit of the farm and the balance raised through a commercial bank. 

With no formal forestry background, Buyisile has had to rely on technical support from NCT and showed a clear instinct for timber farming.  She has converted her low-lying wattle compartment into frost-tolerant species and is today reaping the benefits of this.  She controls weeds in open areas by grazing her small herd of goats and cattle.  Buyisile oversees all the farm operations herself and has a hands-on management style.

In 2001, NCT initiated the tree farmer of the year award, which is presented annually to tree farming operations that display excellence in sustainable plantation management.

Source: NCT Forestry