Celebrating South Africa’s planted forests this Arbor Week
29 August to 4 September is Arbor Week in South Africa and to mark this Forestry South Africa is celebrating some of the benefits that are generated by South Africa’s 1.2 million hectares of planted forests.
There is so much more to South Africa’s Forestry Sector than simply chainsaws, planks of wood and printer paper. It is a sector built on the sustainable use of a renewable product, introduced over a century ago to protect the country’s indigenous forests from the nation’s increased demand for wood. Through advances in wood science and innovation, we now can create futuristic wooden buildings that not only look great, but like our trees, play their role in the battle against climate change by storing carbon.
Humans are not the only species benefitting from forestry, as around 20% of the forestry landholdings are not planted for commercial use and are actively managed as natural spaces for biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. Camera traps have recorded leopards, eagles, caracals, genets, bushpigs, antelopes and countless other species going about their day-to-day business within South Africa’s planted forests.
Indeed, the patchwork nature of the forestry landscape, with its planted compartments and natural ecosystems corridors, enables a multitude of ongoing conservation and stewardship initiatives to thrive within a commercial setting. Supporting and collaborating with conservation organisations is part of the multifaceted land use approach the industry follows to maximise both environmental and economic sustainability. Neither, however, would be possible without investing in social sustainability, which is why the Sector invests millions every year into community projects that enrich the lives and livelihoods of our rural neighbours.
So next time you pick up your cell phone, put in the washing, eat a low-fat product, apply make up or cream, paint a wall or stick something down there is a good chance you will be using one of our lesser known forest products. So much of the world around you contains wood in some form or another, most of us have no idea how much farmed wood touches our everyday lives, or helps in the fight against climate change, creates rural livelihoods and helps conserve indigenous species.
Isn’t it time you found out more about forestry in South Africa?
“The South African Forestry Sector has an important role to play in both the post-Covid19 green economic recovery and the ongoing fight against climate change. Despite occupying a small footprint in an agricultural sense, it is a major contributor to agricultural GDP and employment in rural communities. Beyond this, forestry sets aside around 20% of its landholdings, to benefit both biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. At FSA, we are proud of the ongoing commitment and investment made by our members to community outreach projects and programmes. These have a huge social impact, improving both lives and livelihoods within some of our poorest communities. Sustainable forestry enables us to utilise a truly renewable resource in innovative ways to change the way we live our lives both today and tomorrow. Be it toilet rolls, cell phone screens and the green fuels of tomorrow – these are products we are becoming increasingly dependant on and which started their journey in our forests”, Dr Ronald Heath, Director of Research and Protection.
Source: Forestry South Africa
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