By Gavin Dunlop, CEO, ACTNET

JOHANNESBURG -September 4, 2015– Every year as National Arbour Week rolls around two important questions must be asked – are we doing enough to keep our world green and how can ordinary people make a difference. In truth there is some good news to be found since innovative digital tools have started saving forest-loads of paper.

The scourge of poaching has always been a focal point for conservationism but by far the biggest killer is the loss of habitats, killing indiscriminately and absolutely. As our population grows there is an ever-increasing demand for land. Forestry plantations do long-term damage to the ecology of an area and they already cover vast swaths of land that could otherwise be used for farming, or preserved as natural green spaces.

It is true that the culling of ecosystems was far more rampant in the past, and there is now great pressure on forestry companies to be as sustainable and responsible as possible in their practices. However, the land remains occupied by countless artificial rows of alien trees, consuming enormous quantities of increasingly precious fresh water that could otherwise feed an abundance of life downstream.

A perfect example is Lake Sibaya in KwaZulu-Natal, one of very few fresh water lakes in South Africa, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is sadly under strain due in large part to extensive blue gum plantations in the area. Coupled with increasing demands from a growing population, Lake Sibaya’s prospects are bleak. Since blue gum wood is of poor lumber quality, the trees’ primary use is for paper.

At some point efforts toward sustainability just won’t be enough. More drastic measures will be needed to roll back the damage before more ecosystems are lost. We need a fundamental change in the way we do things and that change can’t only happen out in the field. Rather it needs to happen in every home and office, facilitated by new technologies. The good news is these changes have already begun.

Paper is no longer required at all for a great many businesses to operate since the introduction of services like Electronic Document Delivery, or EDD. Documents such as payslips, invoices and contracts can be distributed in high volumes, safely and on time, to multiple devices. Detailed deliver audit trails are kept, as well as user activity reports. Utilising cloud storage means information is available on demand from anywhere, secured and backed up. Customers can even find what documents they need through an end user portal, eliminating the need to utilise the traditional postal service.

This kind of advancement in technology means it is now possible to dispense with traditional, more harmful ways of doing things. We’ve seen it with steel ships replacing wooden ships which required huge numbers of trees to make, or with phasing out coal energy in favour of wind and solar farms. The sooner we embrace these sorts of technological advances the sooner the Earth, and places like Lake Sibaya in particular, will begin to benefit.


ACTNET is a privately owned company established in 1987. Its vision is to ensure that the vital business documents of both SMEs and enterprises are captured, archived, preserved and delivered to their customers. The company has developed a proprietary Electronic Document Delivery (EDD) solution that is unmatched in the South African environment. The company also specialised in enterprise output management, centralised print management, document management, document output and data enhancement.


ACTNET: Janine Buckley, +27 (0)11 2676444,>,

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