It’s almost the end of August, which is recognised as Women’s Month in South Africa. Forestry South Africa (FSA) celebrated Women’s Month by honouring women from different areas of forestry.

The women show that no job is off limits if the required passion and dedication is there. “Some have dedicated their lives to the sector, others are just at the start of their careers, but all have one thing in common – the wish to dispel the myth that forestry is a man’s world,” says Michael Peter, executive director of FSA. “Their success is testament to how our sector has embraced and benefitted from the skills and qualities women bring to the industry.”

In turn, the forestry sector gives women the opportunity to contribute to a challenging and ever-evolving industry that produces essential everyday items – from furniture to face wash, pencils to paper and a myriad of novel products all made from the wood of locally farmed trees. It is an industry where there is always room to grow, where you are part of a globally recognised community and have the opportunity to work outdoors with leaders in multiple fields. “While forestry is not for the faint-hearted, there is nothing we as women cannot do, no matter how difficult it may seem,” says Buyisile Maureen Mdunge from Umvoti Property Investment.

Khosi Mavimbela, executive director of the Forest Sector Charter Council, says, “It is little wonder why women in forestry are proud of what they do and all they have achieved. These women want to plant a seed of inspiration in the mind of others, who many not have thought about a career in forestry but could greatly benefit from one.”

By sharing their story of triumph and growth within the industry, FSA hopes other women will follow in their footsteps and the myth that forestry is a male-only workforce will be busted once and for all.  “Working in an environment which is blessed with producing an abundance of essential products from renewable resources – in a time when everything else is plastic or causes harm to the planet is quite inspiring,” says Zelda Schwalbach from Sappi Forests.

“The forestry industry is no longer just about ‘managing plantations’. It has become a complex, multi-faceted business that provides many opportunities, where the sky is the limit,” comments Dr Nicky Jones also from Sappi Forests.