According to David Elliott, founder of the Mass Timber Focus Group, the main hurdle for timber in South Africa is lack of awareness.
Elliott says that architects, for example, need to be totally comfortable with mass timber and what framing grids they can use, so they need a good understanding of the material. “A few colleagues volunteered to join our voluntary group, to create online events for the local built environment professionals through awareness, education and partnering with international players. We recently delivered a number of presentations for the Green Building Council of South Africa, and were joined by Jamie Smylie from X-Lam, and Tessa Brunette from ARUP.
“The conundrum in South Africa, in addition to the awareness, is that mass timber only becomes competitive in cost once you have a mature supply chain. This creates the typical chicken-and-egg scenario in economics, where supply increases to meet increasing demand, and therefore attracts investment and competition. This is investment is critical to develop a competitive supply chain, as budget is always a key factor for the adoption of new technologies. Local forestry professionals have confirmed that local timber resources can be re-purposed from wood pellets and paper pulp to higher value Cross Laminated Timber or Glue Laminated Timber. The only way people will invest in these products, machinery, and technology, is if they know that there is a guaranteed and growing demand,” Elliott tells Timber iQ.