Konica Minolta South Africa invited Africa Print, along with representatives from Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) and carbon advisory firm, Promethium Carbon, to help plant some of the 4600 bamboo plants donated by the Bidvest company through its initiative with FTFA in the Blue Disa community in Lawley, south of Johannesburg on 17 February.

The 31 hectares of bamboo join five hundred River Bush Willow trees planted at Blue Disa by Konica Minolta South Africa in 2013 and form part of the organisation’s continued dedication to address environmental issues, while enriching the lives of surrounding communities. The company is dedicated to highlighting the essential role that trees, and grasses like bamboo, play in sustainable development and the livelihoods of people and their environment.

At the planting, the company was officially presented with a certificate from FTFA, acknowledging that the Carbon Protocol of South Africa (CPSA) has named Konica Minolta South Africa as being ‘carbon neutral’ for the period 2012/2013.

In the six years since Konica Minolta South Africa started working with FTFA, the company has donated a colossal 18178 fruit and indigenous trees to schools and communities across the country. The huge success of this initiative led the company to investigate further ways to demonstrate its commitment to taking proactive steps in addressing climate change, whilst uplifting impoverished communities.

Alan Griffith, managing director of Konica Minolta South Africa, said, ‘Towards the end of last year, we planted five hundred River Bush Willow trees at Blue Disa. However, just as Konica Minolta South Africa likes to keep moving with the times, so do our corporate social initiatives and this site has now received 4600 bamboo plants through FTFA’s Bamboo for Africa programme. This is an exciting programme as it offers opportunities for clean energy production and enterprise development, whilst providing skills and plant material to disadvantaged communities, helping them to enter the Green Economy.’

Bamboo for Africa is one of FTFA’s six national programmes. It is also the first internationally verified bamboo carbon offset programme through the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). Bamboo for Africa projects are usually implemented alongside a FTFA FEED (Farmer Eco Enterprise Development) farm, which develops organic vegetable enterprises for emerging farmers. These farms produce vegetables, which are sold in formal markets and it is these vegetable enterprises that support the farmers financially until the bamboo is ready for harvest, which can take between four to seven years.

‘Bamboo is an incredible plant. It is the fastest growing and largest grass on the planet, a single 15-centimetre seedling will reach up to 20 metres in height and five metres in width. The harvested product has around 1500 known uses, across many industries from textiles to furniture to bioenergy. By planting these 4600 bamboo plants, we will be providing sustainable livelihoods for the Blue Disa community. The farm is owned by 200 primary growers and their families and 150 project participants will be adding value to the yields from the bamboo plantation,’ said Griffith.

‘Through our work with FTFA we have not only managed to ‘reforest’ some of South Africa’s most impoverished areas, but were also able to offset our direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions for the 2013 financial year, making us officially carbon neutral. The bamboo plants donated by Konica Minolta South Africa to Blue Disa cover 20 hectares and will help us to offset 6 280 tonnes of carbon over seven years,’ he said.