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UPM Raflatac partners with WWF South Africa to support sustainable wine production and conservation in the Cape winelands

imageUPM Raflatac has joined forces with WWF South Africa to support conservation work within the South African wine industry. The main aim of the project partnership is to promote sustainability in the wine industry supply chain – from farm production to packaging – with the overall outcome of supporting responsible environmental production and long-term conservation of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom.

This outstanding plant kingdom – commonly referred to as fynbos (Afrikaans for fine bush) – is a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot and a World Heritage Site. The Cape Floral Kingdom is found nowhere else on Earth and yet is under increasing environmental pressure from urban and agricultural expansion and poor land management practices. Since nearly 95% of South Africa’s wine production occurs in the Cape Floral Kingdom, this small but richly biodiverse area has been put under serious strain in the Cape winelands with the remaining natural areas fragmented and poorly managed. Over the past ten years, good production practices and conservation has been achieved by encouraging wine producers to set aside conservation worthy areas of their land that are home to endangered natural habitats and vegetation. These well-managed natural areas then create corridors between farms in order to allow pathways for wildlife, such as the elusive Cape leopard, and unique indigenous vegetation to flourish.

WWF-SA’s work with the wine sector is also committed to promoting environmentally responsible agricultural practices. Partnering with industry, WWF works to minimise wine producers’ on-farm environmental impact and improve effective management of natural areas including land restoration, protection of freshwater resources, control of invasive plants species and effective fire management. This ten year journey has already seen more than a third of the South African wine industry commit to conservation, better production practices and industry-wide regulation of responsible production and environmental certification.

Looking forward, WWF is now working to maximise conservation best practice through an exclusive Champions in Conservation programme which is available to all producers interested in leading and pursuing best practice. It also supports industry-wide environmental certification to maintain the assurance of good production practices and a philosophy of continual improvement towards WWF’s Champions in Conservation category.

Says Inge Kotze, WWF-SA Sustainable Agriculture Programme Manager, “WWF is proud to work alongside UPM Raflatac in maintaining the strong awareness of  environmental sustainability that is well established in the sector, and continuing to lead best practice around the importance of environmental sustainability along the full wine supply chain, from growing to harvesting, labelling to packaging.”

WWF supports UPM Raflatac’s leadership role in demonstrating best practice in the wine industry supply chain through their environmentally-friendly packaging offering and will join UPM Raflatac in promoting FSC certified products as responsible choices for use in the packaging, labelling and printing of wine industry products.

“UPM Raflatac has been developing initiatives to reduce its impact on the environment for many years and we’re very excited to be involved where we can to promote environmental good practice within the wine industry. Through this initiative we can support the wine sector to work in harmony with the environment, whilst enhancing their long-term business viability. In addition, the long-term conservation and preservation of this globally unique region of the world will be assured, this ensuring the wine industry’s contribution to our natural heritage continues for generations to come,” says Lee Unsworth, General Manager, UPM Raflatac South Africa.