Development and implementation of a multifunctional community forest management approach in South Africa. A chance for rural livelihoods in a changing climate.

Worldwide, community forests are an indispensable socio-economic and cultural backbone of rural societies widely facing severe challenges due to bad living conditions, climate change, urbanisation and migration. In the course of land redistributions to black society after the Apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, community forests and their management play an important role also in South Africa. However, many communities lack the knowledge of how to manage these forests sustainably under conditions of a changing climate. As a result, land is often leased to large forestry companies again creating dependencies for the individual communities.

Project objectives:

  1. Investigation of climate resilience and CO2 reduction potential of current community forests through inventories.
  2. Determining the importance of forest-derived ecosystem services (ESS) and their dependence on gender, age, and educational background through expert interviews and socioeconomic surveys.
  3. Establishment of real model forests (marteloscopes), with the help of which local knowledge is gained through virtual forest thinning and subsequent group discussions.
  4. Scaling up the concept of model forests: stakeholder workshops to exchange silvicultural knowledge, networks and training, strategy paper for national decision-makers.



Supported by BayFOR:

Research Focus:

  • Climate
  • Environment / Natural Resources / Biodiversity

Project Coordination:

Technical University of Munich

Project Partner:

University of Pretoria
University of the Free State


Germany (Bavaria), South Africa

Funding Agency:

German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL)


- 30/09/2025