In line with our sustainable development (SD) commitments we recognise our responsibility to conserve natural resources and, where possible, to help restore ecosystems that have been damaged. Ecosystems provide many benefits or 'ecosystem services' to business but there is clear evidence that human activity is degrading them. Left unchecked, this degradation could jeopardise economic wellbeing, social stability and the maintenance of biodiversity.
We acknowledge our dependence and impact, both positive and negative, on ecosystems and were involved in some of the early, pioneering work on ecosystems; playing a leadership role in wetland and High Conservation Value (HCV) ecosystems. Our chief executive has recognised the importance of ecosystems to Mondi by becoming a member of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development's Ecosystem Focus Area Action team together with the chief executives of nine other global companies. Rehabilitating ecosystems
We are working closely with WWF and industry partners to refine the science and practice behind what WWF calls 'New Generation Plantations'. This project should be completed in 2009 and early indications suggest it could have a very positive impact on the rehabilitation of functioning ecosystems. We can only directly influence practices on our own land, but we believe that the work we are doing in tandem with the South African Government's 20-year grassland conservation plan and the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Stewardship Programme can set a clear direction for other landowners and interested parties. We are committed to ensuring that at least 25% of our land in South Africa is not converted to plantations.
Developing eco-corridors Around the world, natural ecosystems are being transformed and fragmented, often as the result of landscape transformation. The resulting habitat loss poses a significant threat to ecological integrity and ecosystem health. Even on the largest nature reserves it is impossible to ensure species survival in the face of these impacts, so mitigation measures are being sought in production landscapes. Mondi is a leader in researching the development of one important mitigation measure: the creation of Ecological Networks (ENs); interconnected land corridors or nodes within the plantation landscape that can help to maintain structural, compositional and functional biodiversity. We have recently appointed a team at Stellenbosch Unversity in South Africa, to investigate the effectiveness of our existing ENs and to develop ways in which they can be used in future to maximise biodiversity conservation while also optimising production. World Heritage partners In South Africa
we are working with our black empowerment partners and government through SiyaQhubeka Forestry (SQF): the first commercial organisation to delineate an accurate 'eco-boundary' line between a World Heritage site and a forestry plantation. By integrating local communities and small growers in the plantation model, SQF has provided protection for sensitive wetland and other HCV areas. Consequently, Mondi plantation areas have now become part of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, extending habitat for species that include elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and many plants, invertebrates and birds. We are currently exploring ways to make use of the lessons learned on projects such as SQF in our other forestry operations. Ecosystem Management Plans (EMP). Our EMP (previously called a Biodiversity Action Plan) for South Africa was due to be completed in 2008, but due to the loss of key environmental staff will now be published in June 2009. The EMP will highlight biodiversity 'hot spots' as well as rare and endangered species. Our 2009 Sustainability Report will contain extracts from our EMPs for South Africa and Russia. For more information go to: www.wbcsd.org