Historically, the timber of choice for our Lion Safety Matches was poplar. During the early part of the 20th century the bulk of this vital raw material was imported from countries as diverse as Finland, Canada and Eastern Europe.

    In an effort to reduce its dependence on imported timber, The Lion Match Company (Pty) Ltd, adopted a tree planting scheme across South Africa in 1922, which today has evolved into the company’s substantial forestry operations in Mpumalanga.
              The company’s first properties were purchased in 1927 and through to the 1990s the various Lion Match factories were provided with poplar from the company’s own farms and  from extension growers. By the early 1990s the incidence of “rust” on the poplar plantations had reached alarming proportions and had severely affected the growth rate of  poplar. This problem, coupled with the environmental issues surrounding the growing of poplar, resulted in The Lion Match Company (Pty) Ltd investigating other timber species as an alternative for match manufacture.

    Various species of pine were found to be most suitable although the introduction of pine into the company’s factories resulted in certain changes that had to be made to the production processes. By 2007, the company’s forestry operations had evolved to the stage where an independent forestry business was established within The Lion Match Company (Pty) Limited, being Lion Match Forestry (Pty) Limited. Whilst timber is provided to the Rosslyn factory from this business unit, the company still makes use of timber supplied by independent growers and by the state-owned Komatiland forests.           Today, 95% of match production in South Africa utilises pine as its primary raw material and Lion Match is approaching the position where it will be fully self-sufficient in terms of timber supply.

    The company’s forestry operations are conscious of their responsibilities in terms of nature conservation and ensure that they act responsibly in respect of preservation of vleis and wetlands, and in the effective prevention and combatting of fires.

    An innovative project in this area was the introduction of Nguni and other cattle breeds into the Mpumalanga plantations. By grazing within the fire breaks and the plantations, the cattle reduce the fire load on the properties by clearing weeds, grass and small shrubs, thereby minimising the risk of fires.           Lion Match Forestry (Pty) Ltd also reflects a responsibility to the communities in which it operates. It assists smaller farmers in the company’s areas of operation with the preparation of fire breaks. It supports local schools by providing firewood for cooking, as well as assisting these schools with the development and maintenance of their sports fields and gardens.