Responsible forestry requires attention to sustainable, efficient and effective practices that have the lowest environmental impact and yield the greatest social and economic benefit, while producing an array of renewable and versatile end-products. To this end, Forestry South Africa (FSA) represents 11 corporate forestry companies, approximately 1 100 commercial timber farmers and some 20 000 small-scale growers. Collectively, these growers own or control no less than 93% of the country’s total plantation area of 1.2 million hectares. It supports the Industry in common and precompetitive areas such as research and protection and against pests and disease, environmental issues, education and training and legislation.
Commercial forestry is much like any other farming practice. The crops are considered a renewable resource, used to make sawn timber, pulp, paper, poles, mining timber, matches, charcoal and cellulose-based products. Specific species of trees are planted, harvested and replanted in sustainable rotation. This ensures that there are trees at various stages of growth and maturity, ready to harvest for generations to come.
Forestry is more than the science of planting, managing and caring for timber plantations. It’s also about looking after the landscape which timber plantations share with other animal and plant species as well as the people and communities that the Forestry and Forest Products Industry touches.
The South African forestry landscape is a tapestry of commercial timber plantations – or tree farms – interwoven by natural spaces of unplanted land to enhance and conserve biodiversity, grasslands, wetlands and indigenous forests. With some 80% of the country’s timber plantations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, South Africa boasts the highest degree of forest certification in the world. South Africans can be proud of their Forestry Industry as one that is environmentally, socially and economically responsible.