Back in 2016, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) saw a need to promote a wood culture society. With 1% of the South Africa’s total land area dedicated to forestry and a total investment into the industry annually of R46.7 billion (according to a report released by the South African Forestry and Forest Products Industry), this sector was one that needed development in order to realise its full potential.
The Forestry Beneficiation Framework
Thus, the Forestry Beneficiation Framework was born. This document was developed to formulate ideas on which the role of forestry-based manufacturing could be developed as an engine of economic growth. The Forest Beneficiation Framework identified the need for technology and innovation, particularly within the timber construction industry.
According to the Forestry Beneficiation Framework, “Both the South African residential and public construction industry is in an ideal position to benefit from decades of overseas experience. Early engagement with architects, designers and engineers is needed to bring them up to speed with regard to the importance of gaining a reasonable foothold and traction by using timber in the construction industry.”
A deeper look into the Forestry Industry
The main products currently feeding into the Forestry processing sector are logs, of which South Africa produces approximately 20 million tonnes per annum. These are used in the timber processing, pulp and paper and board manufacturing industries. The growth and sustainability of the downstream industries to forestry can only be achieved through the reliable supply of this raw material. As a result, plantation forestry is an important strategic sector because of its ability to provide job opportunities and as the main raw material to primary processing industries. The government is currently focusing efforts on increasing the production capabilities of these raw materials, such as timber logs and wooden poles.
However, beside the production of traditional timber products, technologies are also being developed to reduce costs and provide continuous product improvements within the industry. “In the forest sector, transformative technologies promote novel and strategic uses for wood fibre and its many products and derivatives. Such technologies are the key to extracting more value from the forest resource,” states the Forestry Beneficiation Framework. Some of these new technologies include improvement in bio refinery where new technologies are being used to create products such as biofuels, biochemicals and biopolymers (i.e., bioplastics). Through new processes, wood fibre is also combined with plastics to produce new materials with enhanced durability and strength.
“As societies move towards a low-carbon or ‘green’ economy and people move away from the dominance of mass-production in modern lifestyles, we need to grow the culture of living and building with wood,” states the Forestry Beneficiation Framework. With a focus on efficient wood use (e.g. minimizing wastage, recycling), attractive designs will ultimately result in eco-friendly higher value wood products, niche engineered timber products, and a sustainable economy that will be to the benefit of all South Africans.
Here at R&B Group, we applaud the dti for recognising the importance of a wood culture society and putting methods in place for the growth of the timber industry in South Africa. We specialise in the growth, harvesting, processing, and pressure treatment of wooden poles – a vital building block for much of the construction industry.