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Executive Director’s Report / August Newsletter 2023


Roy Southey - Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa

Read the full August newsletter HERE

September 1st heralds not only a new season but also the start of Arbour Week in South Africa. It is a month that celebrates trees of all kinds. Of course, I need not remind you that our sawmilling sector relies on the renewable resource of farmed wood.

Our colleagues at Forestry South Africa do a lot of work promoting the role of commercial timber plantations from an environmental perspective, including conservation and climate change mitigation, to communities, eco-tourism, and the economy. Have a look at their Arbor Week 2023 poster. But our value chain is continually faced with contradicting views. We hear things like: “Yes, wood is sustainable, and we must use more of it. But we must protect the forests and keep trees in the ground.”

The myths and misconceptions are often rooted in ignorance about where the timber we use for sawlogs, pulp and paper comes from. Many people assume that our value chain makes use of indigenous trees. This is certainly not the case.

We need to promote the fact that our timber is sourced from sustainable managed plantations every chance we get. We need to challenge those who believe that harvesting equates to deforestation, and educate them that deforestation is in fact the removal of trees without replanting, and a change in land use to agriculture or urban development. Sustainable forestry is indeed the opposite, and if it wasn’t for South Africa’s timber plantations, our indigenous forests would have been decimated years ago to provide for our fuel and fibre needs.

We have the science to back us up that trees sequester carbon and timber stores it, and by using more timber and thus planting more trees, we are in fact helping the environment, the economy and society move towards a lower carbon future.

It’s the harvesting of trees and the use of timber, coupled with the replanting of new trees and the sustainable management of our plantations, that makes this future possible. And this is where we come – promoting our timber in a variety of applications, especially the local built environment.

As part of the Demand Creation Group of the Forestry Master Plan, we continue to drive the Talking Timber webinar series and promoting the use of timber in the built environment, a key target market for us. Our most recent one was held on 17 August covering construction detailing and structural connections for Mass Timber Building with Mark O’Connor of Rothoblaas and Michael Kloos, a structural engineer. If you missed it, you can watch it here. (In the words of these infamous YouTubers, don’t forget to like and subscribe!)

There are a host of events coming up and we encourage you to support them and/or spread the word: 

12 September – Future Africa, University of Pretoria
Book your seat

Themed “Growing Timber Connections”, this conference is tailored specifically for engineers and architects who play pivotal roles in shaping the future of construction.

The event – which will feature a knowledge-sharing conference, an exhibition by industry and students, a Timber Design Competition and networking – is organised by University of Pretoria (UP), Enterprises University of Pretoria (EUP), Pretoria Institute for Architects (PIA), the Department of Trade Industry and Competition (dtic) and sponsored by York Timbers. 

We hope to see you there! SSA will have a table at the event. 


Johannesburg – 27 September 2023
Contact Dr Philip Crafford –

Keep growing your knowledge! And of course, cutting straight and drying flat.

Roy Southey
Executive Director: Sawmilling South Africa 

Read the full August newsletter HERE

Source: Sawmilling South Africa- August Newsletter 2023

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