Lothair, Grass & Wetlands

The little town of Lothair, close to the towns of Chrissiesmeer and Amsterdam, lies just outside the border with Swaziland. The economy of the small town is driven largely by forestry and logging, and pine and eucalyptus plantations make much of the surrounding area lush and green.

Jessievale Plantation is one of these, just four kilometres from Lothair, whilst a further 8 000 hectares of land are worked by a community trust called the Somhlolo Trust. The Trust belongs to the Ludlambedlu community, many of whom live and work on the farms that lie around Lothair. Sappi provides the management service whilst the Trust benefits from the timber delivered, but the longterm aim is to give over management to the Trust.

It did not help that there was damage to the plantations from fires in 2007 and 2008, so that a lot of maintenance had to take place. The community's cattle are allowed to graze on the farms and they get firewood and free building poles.

Lothair also lies in the midst of one of Mpumalanga's key weland areas - a birding paradise and an area filled with lakes, rivers and watery elements. Neighbouring town, Chrissiesmeer, lies at the heart of the Mpumalanga wetlands with 270 pans and lakes, all within 20 kilometres of one another, and is home to both the greater and lesser flamingo and another 80 aquatic and 170 non-aquatic bird types. As a result, this area is a great draw card for outdoor activities, particularly those done on water like sailing, fishing, water-skiing or 'frogging expeditions'.

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