Biodiversity and ecosystems

Biodiversity is a crucial component of healthy functioning forests and other important ecosystems.1 We focus on implementing best available practices for managing conservation areas and maintaining natural capital in our operations. We aim to go beyond our forestry lands to promote and catalyse ecosystem stewardship by working in partnership across broad landscapes and product value chains.


Why is this important to our stakeholders? +
Why is this important to Mondi? +
Our commitments & performance +
Monitoring functionality of our Ecological Networks in South Africa +
  • Forests are home to up to 80% of the world’s land-based animal and plant species and provide valuable ecosystem services
  • Nature is declining at unprecedented rates, adversely impacting ecosystems upon which we and all other species depend for our livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life worldwide
  • Reduced biodiversity in forests and other important ecosystems means lost opportunities for medicines, food, raw materials and employment


  • Wood is one of our primary raw materials and access to sustainable and responsible sources is essential to our business
  • We manage 2.1 million hectares of natural boreal forests in Russia and approximately 254,000 hectares of plantation forestry lands in South Africa
  • To secure the long-term productivity and resilience of our production landscapes with thriving ecosystem services, we must maintain biodiversity, freshwater ecosystems and natural capital


Our commitments

  • Promote ecosystem stewardship in the landscapes where we operate through continued multi-stakeholder collaboration

Our performance in 2020

  • Around 25% of our forestry landholdings in Russia and South Africa are set aside or managed for conservation.
  • In 2020 we successfully maintained Forest Stewardship Council Forest Management and ISO 14001 certifications in our forestry operations in Russia and South Africa.


In focus Monitoring functionality of our Ecological Networks in South Africa

In 2019, we reviewed the findings of a decade of a research collaboration partnership between Mondi and the University of Stellenbosch – the Mondi Ecological Networks Programme (MENP). With the support of external experts, we defined a number of key principles of effective ecological networks (ENs). These principles will be used to conduct a gap analysis to determine how Mondi’s forestry lands in South Africa conform with the design and management principles for ecological networks. In 2018 and 2019, the MENP also developed and tested a MATCH tool for assessing management effectiveness of plantation forestry management systems, focusing on the most significant environmental pressures.

Mondi’s sustainable forestry model frames the management of Mondi South Africa’s forestry landholdings. Healthy, functional ecosystems – specifically the availability of water and healthy soils – are critically important for the long-term sustainability of Mondi’s tree growing operations, and ultimately its core business. The model also recognises the responsibility of Mondi to ensure that its forestry operations do not compromise the integrity of natural ecosystems on Mondi land and, where possible, beyond its boundaries.
Mondi manages approximately 250 000 ha of landholdings across KZN and southern Mpumalanga, including about 20-25% unplanted areas, the majority of which are important for conservation. These conservation areas, or ecological networks, are dominated by grasslands and wetlands, with natural forests and woodlands (savannah) ecosystems in some places.
These ecological networks are the focus of a long-standing research partnership between Mondi Group Sustainable Development department, Mondi South Africa’s forestry team, and the University of Stellenbosch’s Department of Conservation Ecology and Entomology. The research findings have been developed into a set of key principles around the shape, size and placement of the ecological networks, and how they should be managed to optimise their effectiveness in conserving biodiversity.
Mondi South Africa’s forestry team also uses expert consultants to apply a streamlined environmental monitoring programme to determine whether our management interventions are working to maintain the environmental values of these ecological networks, including avoiding or mitigating key risks. The key monitoring programme elements include:

  • Selected parts of the ecological networks have been identified as high conservation value areas (HCVA). These HCVAs are subject to five-yearly flora and fauna assessments to determine if these values are being maintained.
  • A streamlined wetlands monitoring approach is being carried out in each of our operational units on a four-yearly basis. A rapid wetlands assessments approach is undertaken for a large sample of wetlands within a given operational unit, and then three wetlands are selected in that operational unit for more detailed assessments. The results are then workshopped with key operational staff to direct future management efforts.
  • Two priority river ecosystems are subject to quarterly freshwater monitoring assessments. Water quality is assessed at the points where selected rivers enter and exit Mondi plantations, using biomonitoring indices and water chemistry parameters as identified in collaboration with the freshwater consulting company, GroundTruth. The water quality at the exit point should be the same or better than it was when it entered the plantation. If not, then corrective action is required in terms of managing forestry operations or in terms of managing the riparian zones, wetlands and their buffers.
  • Invasive alien plants (IAP), which can have a negative impact on water and biodiversity and constitute a fire hazard, are notoriously challenging and costly to control. Invasive alien plant monitoring is another key assessment tool. IAP assessments are undertaken annually by external specialist consultants, in so doing providing an independent, objective assessment of the status of IAPs on Mondi South Africa’s forestry landholdings. The assessment results are then used to direct the IAP management efforts.

Related case studies

Protecting the most valuable landscapes and species in Russia 
Restoration of the valuable Atlantic salmon in the Model River Mezen
Restoring a natural riparian forest near our mill in Bulgaria
Thinking globally, acting locally. Key ecosystem stewardship initiatives in the landscapes where we operate


  • Target 6.5 Implement integrated water resources management
  • Target 6.6 Protect and restore water related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes



  • Target 8.4 Improve global resource efficiency and endeavour to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation


  • Target 12.2 Achieve sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • Target 12.8 By 2030, ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature


  • Target 15.1 Ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services
  • Target 15.2 Promote the sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • Target 15.5 Reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species
  • Target 15.8 Prevent the introduction and significantly reduce the impact of invasive alien species on land and water ecosystems and control or eradicate the priority species
  • Target 15.9 Integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts