The one certainty for 2021 is that the uncertainty will continue throughout the year, and stability will probably only return by the end of the year, or mid-2022.

However, uncertainty is not always a bad thing and even under lockdown, the world has to continue moving. The timber industry is robust and resilient and will grind it out in 2021. There is a substantial backlog of housing in South Africa, and timber is the perfect material to fill the gap. Timber can be used with other building materials like concrete and steel. In fact, as our local project article in the February issue of our magazine Timber iQ, proves, it creates a wonderful atmosphere, using a range of different construction materials. The timber industry was on a roll towards the end of 2020 and all indications are that, despite a new spike in Covid-19 cases, this momentum will continue into 2021.

Roy Southey, executive director at Sawmilling South Africa, says that from a business perspective, 2021 looks as though it will start off well for sawmills, and that the momentum of the last two to three months is expected to prevail. “This is good news and something to look forward to. In addition, 2021 will also see the Department of Trade Industry and Competition’s (dtic’s) project to promote the increased use of timber in the South African built environment get off the ground. This is important as the departments of Human Settlements (DHS) and Public Works (DPW) are both parties to the initiative and this alone we are hoping will encourage the increased use of timber in public sector developments,” says Southey.

The outlook for 2021, despite all its challenges, is optimistic. However, expect the unexpected in the ‘new normal’.