South Africa needs to urgently respond to the resource shortages within the sawmilling sector to unlock the benefits of job creation and growth.
The shrinking of resources in forestry was one major challenge that needed to be dealt with by both government and the private sector, said Sawmilling South Africa executive director Roy Southey.
“The expansion of the forestry [sector, by making] better use of the current resources and looking beyond the borders of South Africa, can turn the sector around for the better,” he told delegates at a Department of Trade and Industry- (DTI-) hosted sawmilling industry workshop this week.
Southey also proposed the exploration of eucalyptus as an alternative resource to the industry, citing the shorter lead times and rotation cycles.
Some of the other proposals emerging from the session included the development of strong relations with leading forestry research faculties and institutes and development of a comprehensive strategy to increase access to export markets, as well as promotion of wood culture.
“The department is working with the industry to develop a comprehensive wood processing strategy and various other initiatives that will assist in the recapitalisation of ageing machinery, as well as improve productivity in the sector,” explained DTI forestry-based industries director Tafadzwa Nyanzunda.
Issues that require further scrutiny and attention are a review of the Wood Foundation Institution to make it more effective, strengthening of research capacity for the sawmilling industry, elevation of the sawmilling industry to include wood processing, and raising funds to assist sawmillers invest in newer machinery.