FSA recently held its Annual Regional Meetings, which commenced on 4 February in Limpopo and the Southern Cape and ended in Greytown on 20 February. The nine regional meetings include Limpopo, Eastern Mpumalanga, South-eastern Mpumalanga, Southern Cape, Zululand, Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Alfred County, Eston/Mid-Illovo/Richmond/Ixopo and Umvoti/Main Line. The staff always look forward to these meetings, as they provide the opportunity for reporting to members on FSA’s achievements and receiving feedback from members. It also offers staff and Office Bearers the opportunity to engage directly with growers around the country.
One of the key issues emanating from the meetings was the conversion of forestry land to other uses like avocados and macadamias, amongst others. These land use changes have been evident in Limpopo and Mpumalanga over the last few years but are increasingly taking place in KwaZulu-Natal as well. It is interesting to note that the majority of these conversions are by medium-scale growers and while the main impact of this will be on timber production and availability, there are other consequences of such conversion which were noted. One of these was on the capacity for fire-prevention and control in certain areas, as fewer independent timber growers, means there are fewer landowners and teams to participate in and support fire prevention and control efforts.
In the Southern Cape, the decline in the number of medium-scale growers (not necessarily due to conversion to other crops), is such that there are only two formal FSA medium grower members active in the region. This resulted in the Southern Cape Regional Committee being “mothballed” for the time being. FSA has, however, committed to continue the annual visit to the region and present on FSA’s activities and the state of the sector to our broader stakeholders.
FSA was pleased to note record attendances at most of the ARMs, which is consistent with our experiences at the AGM over the last few years. We were also pleased to see that in most regions, there is growing participation of younger timber growers, many of whom have been elected onto the FSA Regional Committees. At the same time as being inspired by the interest and involvement of the “younger generation” we must also acknowledge FSA members who have served and contributed to these structures for many years and who have recently stepped down to create opportunities for younger members to get involved. Along with many other long-serving members from previous years, FSA thanks Johan Coetzer (NCT) and Mike Trebble (TWK) for their dedicated service and contributions in the Regional Committees.
We would like to congratulate the following members for being voted onto the Region Committees in 2020:
- Clive Mattison (NCT) (Northern KwaZulu-Natal)
- Hendrik Klopper & Johan Roodman (TWK) (South-eastern Mpumalanga)
- Martin Eggers (Umvoti/Main Line)
- Braveman Shezi (NCT) (Zululand)