Some forestry industry operations in South Africa are currently on land that is under claim. This case study was aimed at identifying the most suitable model for future engagement of communities in forestry with forest land under claim in Mpumalanga. In total, 231 households were purposively sampled at Jessievale (n=100) and Roburna (n=131) where the primary data was collected through interviews and interactions with household heads. In general, 70% of the respondents indicated that they would opt for a settlement model that involves forestry. About 26.8% chose the joint venture model, whereas 18.6% chose the lease agreement model and 19.4% chose at least one of any other forestry settlement model among those that were given.
The joint venture model was the most preferred due to its ability to transfer the land to the
claimants and to transfer management skills, create jobs and empower communities. In addition, the study showed that age and forestry skills significantly contribute to the choice of a different model. The study also showed that while communities were interested in getting their land back, they are not fully utilizing the small portions of land currently available to them for agriculture and that the demand for land may be driven more by other land use options such as land for expanding new homes and grazing. In conclusion, communities are still interested in forestry as a land use option. However, future forestry models should clearly address land ownership and accommodate other land use options.