The timber and construction sectors are key in the transition to a new way of living. Building with timber reduces the carbon footprint and ensures a healthier lifestyle. Living in a timber building is an all-round, better experience than being stuck in a stark, solid, brick-and-concrete building. In Europe, America and other parts of the world that are regarded as developed, timber has, for many years, been the construction material of choice for houses and even for multi-storey buildings.
In Scandinavian countries, forests and wood enjoy cultural significance and form an important link in the bioecology of a region. South Africans lags behind in using timber as a construction material, and in acknowledging the importance of nature. Moreover, South Africa is not giving voice to our millennials, nor embracing their ideas and hopes for a better future, even though they constitute the majority of the population. In a country that has a clear deficit in terms of low-cost housing, and where there is a desperate need to build better quality houses at a reduced cost and as quickly as possible, timber is the obvious answer.
Therefore, the Department of Trade of Industry and Competition’s (dtic) efforts to promote the use of timber as a construction material should be lauded. It is extremely difficult to change the culture and the way people think and act, and it will take an immense effort by a dedicated few to bring about the necessary change.
South Africa, unfortunately, is a brick-and-mortar country, notwithstanding the fact that we have more than enough wood to sustain a vibrant timber sector. It is, however, inspiring that there are a growing group of people in South Africa (including the dtic), who are passionate about forestry, wood, and timber, and are using this versatile material to design amazing buildings and build basic houses.
This group of outstanding individuals include, amongst others, engineers, academics, architects, carpenters, designers, and developers. Timber in Construction is proud to be a member of this growing movement and to announce that it will collaborate with them and the dtic, in promoting the use of timber as a viable, and sustainable, building material in South Africa.
Leon Louw – editor of Timber in Construction and Timber iQ