Currently South Africa is lightly forested with a plantation area of 1.3 million hectares, which represents about 1.1% of our land area. This percentage becomes rather insignificant alongside that of other countries such as the US (30%) and Japan (67%). It’s the same when compared with other BRICS countries – Brazil’s plantation area is in the region of five million hectares, Russia – 17 million, India – 33 million, whilst that of China is standing at a staggering 47 million.
According to SAFCOL’s Chairperson, Lungile Mabece, “The conference represents a platform to not only promote and optimise the production and utilisation of wood in South Africa, but to also bridge the gap that exists between South Africa’s forestry industry and that of other countries. The greater aim of the SAFCOL conference is to facilitate discussions and information sharing regarding the opportunities within our wood value chain and to seek consensus on projects that stakeholders can jointly undertake to increase value addition. What’s more important is that, the conference will address the various challenges faced by our industry, whilst always keeping long-term sustainability and safeguarding the environment in mind.”
The conference will bring together forestry related decision‐makers and players from both the public and private sectors; including forestry technical practitioners, end-product users, forest managers, and academics and researchers. Members of the public are also welcome to join the three-day proceedings. In addition the conference will give a much-needed boost to our forestry industry, education and training, research and development and technological innovation.
The role that SAFCOL plays in the creating awareness around wood culture
Creating a platform dedicated to the promotion of a wood culture in South Africa…
Trees have been the backbone of terrestrial ecology since before the evolution of humans. Throughout history they’ve been central to our very cultures and economies, even embodying a faithful, long-serving veneration. However, and with the advent of petroleum-based fuels and polymers, trees have lost their mythical status in the new world order. Besides the more immediate forestry growth and development objectives, for SAFCOL it’s just as important to promote and create awareness around a wood culture society – which currently doesn’t really exist in South Africa.
In this regard greater emphasis needs to be placed on the value and usage of wood. South Africa’s forestry industry and all other stakeholders also need to support and promote the international concept of ‘Wood is Good’, thereby further developing the ideal of a harmonious and mutually beneficial existence between nature and society. Whilst most of us do value trees and woodlands (often, purely for cosmetic purposes), we don’t fully appreciate what they really mean to us or the ways in which they are, and can be, useful to us.
How many kids can tell about the stages a tree goes through from seedling to sofa? Do we know exactly where the wood products in our homes, gardens, schools and businesses come from, or do we just take them for granted? One of our biggest challenges lies with the ignorance of our new generation. Today’s kids are growing up in a reality that is estranged from nature. They certainly don’t share the sense of awe and wonder that most of us experienced as we played and worked outside, shaded by the magnificence of a marula tree, whistling thorn or baobab.
“SAFCOL believes that revitalising a wood culture society should stand foremost on any agenda to promote and develop our timber industry. With the Forestry Industrialisation Conference held 4-5 October, this aim is firmly fixed in its sights.”
SAFCOL (South African Forestry Company Limited) is the third largest state-owned company in South Africa, under the department of Public Enterprises (DPE), primarily involved in the forestry industry with operations in Limpopo, Mpumlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, as well as in the southern half (Manica and Sofala provinces) of Mozambique.