The FSA AGM, held on 23 May in Howick, drew a record turnout by its members and stakeholders and provided an opportunity for the industry to reflect on the year that had past but also look to the future.
Despite some sobering revelations by guest speaker and internationally respected economist Dawie Roodt regarding the state of the South African economy, any concerns the foresters may have had were quelled by Absa’s Deon van Wyk’s announcement that forestry in South Africa was still considered an incredibly safe investment by the bank.
2018 has been an incredibly productive year for the sector. This is evident in FSA’s 2018 Annual Report, which documents a number of key achievements accomplished by the association and the sector. A particular highlight has been the inclusion of the forestry and forest products sector in the Public Private Growth Initiative (PPGI), securing another R11m from the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the restated commitment from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to making Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP) funding available to small-scale timber growers.
Moving forward, 2019 will hold many challenges, but equally opportunities lay ahead too. Roodt used the analogy how a tree’s good years and bad years can be seen in its rings, and so with each passing year we add another ring to the collective forestry tree in South Africa. Under the watch of incoming FSA chairperson Sappi’s Dr Terry Stanger, 2019 is set to lay down a bumper growth ring.