The 19th Forestry South Africa Annual General Meeting was hosted virtually on 6 May 2021. This was the second year the association had to host the event as a virtual meeting due to the pandemic. The meeting was attended by 116 people including our members, our research partners, stakeholders from Government, non-Governmental organisations and the media. The keynote speaker this year was Mr Roelf Meyer, a lawyer by trade, who became famous for his position as the government’s chief negotiator in the Multiparty Negotiating Forum 1993 after the failure of CODESA. Mr Meyer, along with President Ramaphosa received the South African Breweries Leadership and Service Award in 2004. Mr Meyer is currently the Co-founder of the In Transformation Initiative.
Participants listened attentively as Mr Meyer gave his keynote address, where he expressed the valuable role vibrant and active associations, such as FSA, have played in forging strong partnerships between Industry and Government within the PPGI framework. Mr Meyer also expressed his gratitude to the Forestry Sector for their commitment to the PPGI and contributing to South Africa’s wellbeing. In his address, Mr Meyer stated in his opinion, lack of capacity in Government and the negative cadre deployment was one of our country’s biggest inhibitors of growth. That as citizens of the country, we have little opportunity to change this as it needs to be done within Government, but that we do have a role to play in building capacity on a local level through continued constructive partnerships.
In his vote of thanks, FSA Chairperson, Mr Andrew Mason, stressed the Forestry Sector’s commitment to this continued constructive partnership between Industry and Government, through the PPGI framework moving forward and trusted that the same commitment would be forthcoming from Government.
The meeting’s second guest speaker, Mr Steve Germishuizen, General Manager of Sustainable African Forestry Assurance Scheme (SAFAS) provided an informative and well-received overview of SAFAS and its international endorsement body, the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). In his presentation, Mr Germishuizen explained how the SAFAS framework provides internationally recognised certification developed specifically for the Southern African context. He also made clear that while certification under SAFAS is open to all FSA members, its cost effectiveness presents an excellent opportunity for our medium and small growers to achieve internationally recognised certification.
Click here, to download a PDF copy of Mr Germishuizen’s presentation
The AGM included a heartfelt acknowledgement by Mr Mike Edwards, previous Executive Director of FSA (and the former FOA), to a stalwart of the Industry, Mr Roger Godsmark. Roger, who officially retired in 2020, was acknowledged for the years of passion, service and dedication he has given to the Forestry Sector over the past 35 years. Mr Edward’s praise and thanks for the impact Roger has had in shaping our Sector was echoed in the sentiments of AGM participants who posted messages of appreciation and best wishes to Roger using the meeting’s messaging board.
In his Chairman’s address, Mr Mason devoted a significant amount of attention to the impact of the pandemic on the Forestry Industry and the extraordinary success of FSA in protecting most of the Industry during the pandemic. He also reflected on some of the key outcomes of pandemic for the Industry, including the quantified reduction in tonnage, with timber volumes dropping 14.6% year on year. That, while this is of tremendous concern, it should be viewed in context of other sectors and indeed the impact that “may have been” if it was not FSA had not succeeded in getting Forestry declared as an essential sector. He reiterated that FSA was fortunate to have already been a key sector in the Public Private Growth initiative which acted as a vehicle through which our Sector was able to engage the President at the start of lockdown. Furthermore, he expressed that while for nearly a decade until 2018, meaningful engagement and support from Government was nearly impossible to achieve, we should be most grateful for the extraordinary leadership which is continuing to be displayed by our President as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. The Presidency listened to the advice of experts in health, economics and sociology, amongst others and through this, we were firstly able to limit the spread and impact of the COVID-19 virus on the citizens of this country and we were able to gradually open the economy. Mr Mason concluded by indicating that we have witnessed strong growth in demand for timber and forest products, both domestically and from abroad and it is our sincere hope that this will continue. He expressed sincere gratitude to the FSA staff for saving the Industry from what could have been a much more disastrous outcome during the lockdown in 2020 and for the massive communication effort during the crisis and since that time. Members of FSA, as well as those of other Associations and even other Sectors, relied heavily on the communications which FSA was pitting out and encouraged all members and their staff to join FSA’s Telegram broadcast channel. Finally, Mr Mason wished all our growers and partners in the public and private sectors the very best outcomes for the rest of 2021 and beyond, as we look forward to a time of greatly improved economic and social outcomes for both our Industry, and the country as a whole.
The meeting addressed all administrative matters including the approval of the FSA Annual Financial Audit as well as the FSA Annual report. The meeting also confirmed the office bearers for 2021:
Large Growers Group:
- Mr Ferdie Brauckmann (TWK)
- Dr Johan de Graaf (Merensky)
- Ms Itumeleng Langeni (MTO)
- Mr Tsepo Monaheng (Safcol)
- Mr Themba Vilane (Mondi)
- Mr Duane Roothman (Sappi)
- Mr Penwell Lunga (PG Bison)
- Mr Piet van Zyl (York Timbers)
- Mr Mark Armour (R&B Group) – co-opted
Medium Growers Group:
- Mr Andrew Mason (MGG Chair)
- Mr Murray Mason (KZN & W Cape)
- Mr Heiner Hinze (Mpumalanga & Limpopo)
- Mr Danny Knoesen (MGG NCT)
- Mr Graeme Freese (Immediate Past MGG Chairperson)
Small Growers Group:
- Ms Busisiwe Mnguni (KZN North – SGG Chairperson)
- Mr Enoch Maponya (Limpopo Chairperson)
- Mr Thandokuhle Nxele (KZN South – SGG Vice-Chairperson)
In accordance with the FSA Constitution for an annual rotation amongst the three constituent member groupings, Ms Busisiwe Mnguni (SGG) was elected as the FSA Chairperson and Mr Themba Vilane (LGG) as Vice-Chairperson. FSA would like to congratulate the Office Bearers for their election and looks forward to working with them in the coming year.
Ms Busi Nguni (SGG)
FSA EXCO Chairperson
Mr Themba Vilane (LGG)
FSC EXCO Vice-Chairperson