While the United States and Canada might be known for their rich timber supply and use of timber in anything they build, the average South African joe knows little about the timber industry burgeoning right in their backyard.
Here are ten little known facts about South Africa’s timber industry:
SA’s Timber Industry
- South Africa’s Forest resources cover less than 1% of the total land area of the country with most of the industry focussed around KwaZulu Natal and Mpumalanga. Durban port provides easy access for exporting of treated poles and timber products, allowing KZN products to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
- The contribution of forestry products to the country’s manufacturing GDP sits at around 5% and at 10% of South Africa’s agricultural GDP. The industry is responsible for employing some 150,000 workers.
- Timber from South Africa, primarily in the form of treated poles, supplies much of Africa. Our wood is exported to countries all over the continent, from the northern reaches of Morocco, Senegal, and Ethiopia to the West Coast, including Angola, Cameroon, and Namibia, through to the East, Tanzania, and Mozambique and even offshore to Madagascar and Mauritius!
- South Africa has strict forestry lawswhich prohibit the cutting or damaging of protected trees. Of the over 1,700 species of trees and shrubs found in South Africa, around 50 species are protected, including a variety of Yellowwood species, the infamous Marula, and some mangroves.
- One of the mandates that is especially important to South Africa’s forestry industry is creating a sustainable industry through community involvement, leading to economic development and poverty alleviation. To promote these concerns South Africa hosts an Arbor Weekin early September, encouraging communities and schools to get involved planting trees.
- South Africa’s wood is used to create a variety of products, such as wood trusses, treated wooden polesused in fencing and for utilities, pulp for boxes, newspaper, paper and paper bags, thermoplastic products and even green energy products.
- The types of trees that primarily grow in South Africa’s plantations include wattle, eucalyptus, and pine.
- As a renewable resource, the forestry industry aims to be as socially, environmentally, and economically responsible as possible. In fact, South Africa boasts the highest degree of forest certification in the world.
- There are eleven large scale timber companies in South Africabut 1,100 medium-scale business or sole proprietors and 25,000 individual growers!
- On average 30% of forestry land remains unplantedin South Africa, allowing space for conservation and recreation.