and development in the South African forestry industry has received a massive
boost with the awarding of a R25 million grant over three years from the
Department of Science and Technology.
year Forestry South Africa applied to the DST for a Sector Innovation Fund in
order to boost research and development to address key challenges facing the
industry. FSA was one of only three successful applicants to be awarded a
Sector Innovation Fund out of a total of 38 applications representing 28
sectors of the economy.
fund will be managed by the newly appointed Research Director of FSA, Dr Ronald
Heath, previously employed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries. A call for expression of interest has been distributed by FSA through the media and direct communication
with key stakeholders. Proposals will be reviewed and adjudicated by a Steering
Committee comprising the FSA Research Advisory Committee and representatives from
the DST and the Forestry and Natural Resources branch of DAFF.
Some of the Sector priorities identified to address the challenges faced
by the Sector include:
management to address a range of systems and end-products.
Development and application
of biotechnology in tree improvement and tree protection.
management for growing trees sustainably.
of spatial technologies in forestry including remote sensing.
Improvement of timber
(woody biomass) as a feedstock for bio-based products including bioenergy,
biopolymers, biomaterials and other bio-products required for a diversified
Forest engineering and
modernisation research (harvesting, roads and transport, ergonomics and people)
- reduced stump to mill costs.
a fragmented/mosaic forest landscape, including rural sustainable development.
to demands for competing in new global markets.
"Impact" research to
support policy development and inform legislation and to support the
competitiveness of the sector.
Technologies and capacity
to predict risks, and to detect, monitor and design control programs to a
continuously increasing base of threats to the sector.
The proposals selected will not only need to address challenges facing
the forest sector, but will also need to address key criteria identified by the
DST. These include:
private sector investment in Research, Development and Innovation.
general level of Research and Development in South Africa forest sector.
the competitiveness of the forest sector (nationally and internationally).
to the intellectual property portfolio of the forest sector.
towards transformation through the development of opportunities for emerging
new role players.
awarding of the SIF fund to the Forest Sector is a significant accomplishment and
is the first substantial public funding to be directed to the commercial forestry
sector in 19 years," said Dr Heath. "The awarding of the SIF has been well
received and has ignited new enthusiasm and energy within the forest R & D
community," he said.
is a massive coup for us," said FSA's Executive Director, Michael Peter. "We
are never going to compete with other timber producers, like Brazil, in terms
of volume, so we're going to need to be innovative. We need to develop new
products, new markets, genetic technology, harvesting and logistics innovation,
better land use planning ... basically we have to produce more with less," he
said. The Forest Sector would like to express its gratitude to DST and look
forward to future collaboration to advance the Forest Sector and increase its
contribution to the National Outcomes and priorities.
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