This year’s Forestry South Africa (FSA) AGM may have been smaller than most due to the Covid-19 restrictions that meant only 70 participants attended in person, however the atmosphere was one of celebration.
“I am very excited by how the Sector has navigated the recent crisis’ and how
we have come out better, FSA played a big role in that.”
– Ferdie Brauckmann – Timber Division Executive Manager, TWK Agri
A relatively small sector, the Forestry Industry could easily have been blown off course by the global and local disruptions that, over the past two years have jeopardised the futures of so many other industries and sectors. The Forestry Sector, however, has come through it relatively unscathed and in some respects even stronger with recorded timber sales for 2021 reaching 13,153 million tons, 13% up on the volumes achieved in 2019 and could have potentially reached 2018 figures if it was not for the physical damage and loss of production endured by the industry during the failed insurrection.
“Being a relatively small sector we learnt the importance of combining our efforts, using a single united voice, and pooling resources and expertise a long time ago. The Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, the failed insurrection and subsequent riots and looting, the infrastructure challenges and floods would have been impossible to manage as single forestry entities, but as a single combined voice we were heard and included in key Presidentially-led discussions and groups like the PPGI, receiving Essential Sector status. This has been key in weathering not just the pandemic and failed insurrection, but also in addressing some of the challenges and barricades that have been preventing our Sector from moving forward. The FSA AGM presented the first opportunity many of the key role players have had to come together and celebrate all the Sector has achieved”, Dr Ronald Heath
“Being a member of Forestry South Africa has really benefitted Mondi, as it provides a platform
for industry minds to come together and pool their resources and skills to address issues that
impact the Sector as a whole.”
– Themba Vilane, Director of Forestry Operations, Mondi South Africa
Speeches by Keynote Speaker Dr Azar Jammine and Guest Speaker Mr Ian Bird, both outlined the challenges facing the Sector, the country and the world, but also stressed the need to seize the opportunities these challenges would also present.
These include the rail and port infrastructure reforms to address poor levels of service, which is of critical importance for the industry’s competitiveness. Rail reforms present an opportunity to pursue private sector participation in the coal line that currently transport 1.9 million tons of timber but has the capacity to more than double this. Francois[JD1] Oberholzer, with support from the PPGI Leads, is currently working with all rail stakeholders to turn this opportunity into a reality, with both short-term and long-term solutions.
“FSA membership brings the benefits of working as a collective, pooling resources and intellect
to tackle industry-wide problems. It ensures no one feels isolated, that we are part of a greater
group with far more bargaining power.”
Danny Knoesen – General Manager, NCT Forestry and Agricultural Co-operative Ltd
The Sector has also seen positive change in relation to the diesel rebate system, with the inclusion of wet contractors, firefighting and forest protection equipment, transportation of wattle bark and biomass, the diesel use of empty truck trips back from mills and the inclusion of small-scale growers. It is not just through diesel rebates that small-scale growers are feeling the benefits, with FSA securing access to state funding to support black participants in forestry. This is thanks to the hard work being put in by FSA’s Business Development Unit under the guidance of Norman Dlamini.
“FSA’s support is essential to ensure the positive transformation seen within the Sector
continues to go from strength to strength.”
Makhosazana Mavimbela, Executive Director of the Forest Sector Charter Council
Incoming FSA Chairperson, Themba Vilane Director of Forestry Operations Mondi South Africa, highlighted the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) funding FSA has secured over the past seven years, a colossal R70 million thanks to the determination and diligence of FSA’s Research Advisory Committee under the direction of Dr Ronald Heath. As well as noting FSA’s recent high court success securing high court judgements in the industry’s favour on both the protection of water use rights and genus exchange.
“As a medium grower we are extremely fortunate to have FSA in our corner, lobbying on our behalf and
facilitating critical research and development for the industry. FSA play a critical role and do an amazing job for the Sector.”
– Andy Mason – Manager, Holme Lacy
Another reason to celebrate was the presence of Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) Director-General Nomfundo Tshabalala, who discussed how the government see the Sector moving forwards. “As Government, we believe the Forestry Sector is one of the key Sectors that needs to be supported moving forward. The Forestry Sector is very critical for our economy, and as Government we feel it must be supported because it contributes to our economy, aids in alleviating unemployment, and through afforestation is one of the sectors that can assist in terms of mitigating climate change.”
The AGM also provided a platform to celebrate FSA, both under the previous leadership of Mike Edwards and under that of his predecessor and current FSA Executive Director, Mike Peter. Both men have left their own impressive mark on the Sector, navigating the Industry safely through the challenges and hurdles that have arise and building on its legacy.
“For a very small organisation, as Forestry South Africa is, they punch way beyond their size.
It is an absolute eye opener to see how far they have come and as the guy who was in the
hot seat on the first day of FSA, it’s really heart-warming and they have done brilliantly.”
– Mike Edwards – Previous Executive Director Forestry South Africa
In homage to 20 years of representing the Forestry Sector, FSA produced a 20-year magazine that includes articles by FSA staff reflecting on 20 years in their respective portfolios and messages from others in the Industry. In addition, a video to celebrate the Industry by linking sustainable forestry to the myriad of green, renewable and recyclable forest products and how these will help ensure a greener more sustainable future today, tomorrow and going forwards, was produced.
The AGM furthermore provided the opportunity to celebrate, publicly and privately, those who have had a huge impact to the Sector and those working within it. Philip Day was thanked in a speech by Mike Edwards for his longstanding service to the Sector and Mike Peter was congratulated for his leadership during the pandemic and beyond. Many others used the AGM as opportunity to privately thank those whose work ethic, positivity and determination had inspired them.
“The AGM offered me the opportunity to shake the hand of Watson Nxumalo, the first FSA Chairperson from the Small-scale Grower Group. He has been a role model for me and no doubt countless others in the Sector. Being able to shake his hand in person and thank him for the contribution he continues to make is why these in-person AGMs are so important” Norman Dlamini, FSA Director Business Unit.
With the AGM now firmly behind us, the whole FSA team is looking forward to capitalising on the opportunities we can create from the challenges our Industry and country currently faces. With the support, expertise and enthusiasm we have received from all those involved in our dedicated, driven and determined Sector, it feels like nothing is insurmountable or out of our reach. We could not be prouder to represent a sustainably managed Sector, that uses a renewable natural resource which can provide many of the solutions to the economic, environmental and social challenges our country and world currently face.
Source: FSA Magazine – Focus in Forestry