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The Forestry and Related Services Sector
South Africa has 1.27 million hectares of afforested land managed by private timber companies, small growers on land held by traditional authorities, community forestry co-operatives and state-owned plantations. The combined forestry and forestry products sector contributes 0.5% to annual GDP and is valued at approximately R33bn, with an estimated R22.1bn of this amount attributable to export earnings. Government regards the forestry industry as a strategic economic sector with the ability to foster economic growth and job creation. Currently the sector provides employment to approximately 165,900 workers, with 92,700 employed in the forestry sector and the remaining 72,300 in sawmilling, mining timber, pulp and paper and related industries.
An innovative Sector
Although the forestry products sector comprises the processing of a range of traditional wood products, such as poles, furniture, paper and packaging, it is wood-derived chemicals that are creating new revenue streams for major player, Sappi. Also known as chemical cellulose, initially used in the production of viscose fibre for clothing, there are an increasing number of applications, in the manufacture of hygiene products and computer screens for example. There is also a growing market for biomass. South Africa already has four small-scale manufacturers of biotech fuel pellets from biomass, although the products have been geared towards export markets in Europe, where demand is higher.
The detailed Forestry and Related Services report discusses current conditions, trends in the sector and the strategies being followed by role players to ensure growth and sustainability. Seventeen industry players are profiled, including Sappi and Mondi, the two major private sector companies which have operations in several countries. Also profiled are state-owned entity, South African Forestry Company (SOC) Ltd t/a SAFCOL and NCT Forestry Co-Operative Ltd, which markets timber and bark on behalf of about 2,000 small growers and also provides services such as transport brokering to its members.