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Post: Transformation is a journey, where all steps should make a difference

Transformation is a journey, where all steps should make a difference

What is transformation in a forestry context?

In a forestry context, transformation enables decisive, impactful and inclusive economic growth. This is achieved through the collective implementation of the B-BBEE Forest Sector’s scorecard, its principles and other sector specific initiatives.

The Forest Industry has embraced a transformative shared vision by signing the Amended Forest Sector Code. This commitment has catalysed the Sector to contribute meaningfully to the exchange of real empowerment, introspective of socio-economic contributions. The Sector’s commitment to a partnership-based approach, ensures both good governance and that transformation makes an economic impact to the previously disadvantaged individuals and societies it has been developed to benefit.

While the slow growth of the economy and Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on transformation across all sectors, including forestry, the commitment shown by all parties to transformation objectives and activities and initiatives, of varying magnitude, that drive the transformation narrative has been overwhelming. Indeed, the CSI report profiled by Forestry South Africa (FSA) speaks volumes about the Sector’s commitment to social upliftment and the belief that transformation should be about a desired impact and change. This is echoed in the Annual Reports, Corporate Reports and Sustainability Reports of forestry companies, which detail such programmes.

When asked, ‘Is the Forestry Sector Transforming?‘ I would have to say both yes and no. Sadly, there are still entities that do not believe or follow B-BBEE objectives and here is where the challenge lies, but that being said, on the most part it is a very supporting Sector. The is evident in the 2021/22 Annual Status of Transformation Report (consistently produced by FSCC since 2008), which boasts an increased number of corporate entities consistently reporting on transformation. Even more encouraging is that preliminary findings show more smaller companies, whose growth and empowerment are imperative, are reporting.

What areas do we need to place more emphasis on?

The pace of transformation is a sticking point for some, who would like to see it happen at a faster rate. However, it is important that as a Sector we ensure that there are no mismatches in expectations between those involved. This requires time to ensure social and rural empowerment imperatives really do benefit those previously disadvantaged individuals/communities they were intended to.

The Sector has taken massive steps regarding the transformation of supplier development, the creation of new businesses and employment, investing heavily in these and skills development initiatives both financial and non-financially.

An area where our Sector has the potential to excel is through the promotion of competent women through managerial positions into executive roles and positions on boards and employment of people living with disabilities in office-based operations. While historically, the Forestry Sector was a male-dominated workspace, it is now aflush with highly skilled, competent women. If the Sector is able to elevate these women, through professional development, into key roles across the Industry, then as a Sector forestry will be the envy of other economic sectors.

We must remember that transformation is not a check-list process. It is not a matter of simply delivering on certain goals and getting a certificate to say you have transformed the Sector. Transformation is a journey, to a destination that continuously adapts and changes. The key is to keep moving forward in a positive direction, highlighting the achievements you have had along the way. We also need to look at how we magnify transformation, looking to create a ripple effect rather than take a linear approach with a single outcome. This way one small transformation event spreads out in all directions to create the greatest impact and maximise the number of beneficiaries.  

FSCC success is one of collaboration with the entire Sector, from organised industry associations like FSA to individual forestry companies. Since our inception, we have been able to forge remarkable relationships across the entire Sector and I believe this is the secret behind the FSCC being regarded as one of the most functional and operational Sector Councils. This is an accolade the whole Sector should be proud of, as it is reflective of their efforts.

The Sector’s support of female and youth empowerment, highlighted through initiatives like “She is Forestry SA”, is another transformation milestone the Sector should be proud of. Initiatives that promote and encourage women into our Sector need to be highlighted and supported, and FSCC is exceptionally pleased to see industry associations like FSA lead the way with their Women In Science initiatives. As it is only right that we celebrate the women who are playing an integral role in shaping our Sector as it moves forwards to face new challenges. We are also incredibly proud of the work being done by the Sector that focuses on empowering our youth. Programmes like FOREST21 – better equipping future graduates for a career in forestry and the varied array of professional development opportunities available for those already working within the industry. Our Sector’s unwavering support of its workforce is why as an industry, forestry and its value chains, boast such an array of young competent men and women, from its machine operators and research specialists to foresters and policy makers.

Where is industry transformation heading over the next five years?

I cannot emphasis enough that transformation is a journey where all steps should make a difference.

As a Sector we are already moving in the right direction and already making a huge difference to the lives and livelihoods of many in forestry communities. The rural nature of our Sector, the opportunities it offers to women, the youth and people living with disabilities positions Forestry to have a huge transformational impact and is why we should push now, in the wake of Covid-19, more than ever to surpass rural development targets.

Going forward, I see our Sector leading by example and plotting the path for other Sectors to follow with regards to transformation. We have set good foundations, now it is time to raise the structure and build upon all the positive transformation work that has been done so far. As a Sector, it is our responsibility to ensure the benefits gained from the forest economy are distributed amongst those individuals, businesses and communities who live alongside our plantations. Likewise, it is our responsibility to ensure the transformation initiatives and programmes we initiate today, have a positive and lasting impact today, tomorrow and in the future. This is what is, and will, differentiate our Sector from all other economic sectors. We are definitely on the right path, we are beginning to gain momentum and collectively we can already see the difference – we have a lot to be proud of.

By: Makhosazana Mavimbela
Executive Director, Forest Sector Charter Council

Source: FSA Magazine – Forestry in Focus

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  • Afrequip
  • Latschbacher
  • Alternative Structures Logo
  • Arxada
  • Bell
  • Ezigro Seedlings
  • Foresta Timber & Board
  • FSC
  • Hin-Tech Manufacturing
  • Husqvarna
  • John Deere
  • Khulani Timbers
  • Kwamahlati Training Services
  • LESH
  • Loadtech Load Cells
  • Logmech
  • Merensky
  • Mondi
  • Those who grow alone, die alone: why transformation is strategic for the MTO Group
  • NCT
  • Pangolin
  • Patula Risk
  • Ponsse
  • Rance Timbers
  • Sabie Poles
  • SAFCOL
  • Sappi
  • Saw Specialists
  • SAWPA
  • SSA
  • Stihl
  • Sunshine Seedling Services
  • Treated Timber Products
  • TWK
  • UCL Sawmill
  • Wood-Mizer
  • WoodBiz Africa
  • Wuhlf

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