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Why Wood?

Benefits of Wood

There is a unique climate case for wood as it is deemed the only structural material that can naturally and significantly decarbonise our planet, both through the growing of trees (which sequester carbon dioxide and release oxygen) and by harvesting them at the right time, which locks up the carbon in sustainable quantities for many years to come. 

Wood is good. 

Trees are nature’s biggest carbon sinks. As they grow, they absorb (sequester) carbon dioxide and store it as carbon in leaves, trunks, roots and soil. The procurement of renewable, sustainably produced wood by the construction sector holds the greatest potential for climate change mitigation.

Some 0.9 tonnes of carbon are sequestered by one cubic metre of wood throughout its lifetime. South Africa has 1.2 million hectares of farmed trees, which sequester around 64.8 million tonnes of carbon. These trees are planted, harvested and replanted for the purpose of making sawn timber, pulp and paper products, among other things.

When a harvested tree is made into a solid wood product or pulp for paper, the carbon remains locked up in those products. When the land is replanted with new trees, the carbon cycle begins all over again.

Timber competes well with concrete and steel as a construction material, in that it offers strength, can withstand seismic activity (not such a big factor in South Africa), and is much lighter to transport. Timber structures are also often prefabricated off-site, reducing both the construction times and associated costs.

Modern wood-based construction materials are safe if treated and used correctly. They will also maintain their integrity in the majority of fire situations and will not melt, deform or collapse.

There is an exciting move by architects as they look to the forest products sector for carbon-neutral and renewable options.

Timber plantations represent 7% of the planet’s forest areas, yet provide 50% of the wood for industrial purposes.

The forestry value chain contributes R69 billion to the local economy annually with sawmilling supporting approximately 30,000 people in predominantly rural communities.

South Africa has top quality structural wood and is one of two countries in the world where the quality of structural timber is assured by compulsory, continuous strength testing at the grading facility.

Timber promotion and engineered wood manufacturing seeks to upskill workers and create new jobs through the development of a circular bioeconomy. New areas such as modern renovation and prefabrication require different skillsets and knowledge bases while developing and improving traditional manufacturing in wood industries.

Biologist and author Edward Wilson first popularised the “biophilia hypothesis” that “humans have an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life”.

According a recent Workplaces: Wellness+Wood=Productivity Report, weaving wood into workplace design can be a major driver of wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity.

All Uses for Wood

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Engineered Wood

Harvested wood products, which store carbon, can be a substitute for carbon-intensive materials such as steel and concrete in construction. Timber is naturally very strong and durable, but, in its natural form, only really suitable for buildings of up to about four storeys high.

Recent technologies, however, are harnessing the natural strength of timber and improving it, engineering a new range of timber that can be used for mass timber buildings and high-rise construction.

Wood can be engineered to perform in various ways.

Glued Laminated Timber - or Gulam

Cross laminated Timber (CLT)

Laminated veneer lumber (LVL) or ‘Technical Ply’

Thermo Timber

Treated Timber

If you’re looking to use treated timber, we can highly recommend that you visit SAWPA’s website for all the information you need.

Why Buy South African Sawn timber?

Naturally Endowed

South Africa is a beautiful country and our commercial tree farming areas are naturally endowed with warm summers, mediocre winters, deep soils and an annual rainfall of more than 800mm to 1400mm per year.

The South African forestry and sawmilling industries have taken more than 100 years to perfect site species matching. Combined with genetic engineering, we are proud to say that our sawmillers produce world-class structural lumber products.

Sustainably Grown

Only wood from sustainably grown trees, from responsibly managed plantations, is used. The trees used typically take 25 years to reach maturity. Only 10% of the total plantation area is harvested, and then replanted with new seedlings in the same year, making timber and other harvested wood products a renewable resource.

The predominant saw timber species are Pinus Elliottii (Mexican Pine), Pinus Patula (Southern Yellow Pine) and Pinus Radiata (Monterey Pine). The timber products derived from these species are virtually indistinguishable in appearance and physical properties.

World-class and Certified

South Africa is considered a leader in commercial tree farming and therefore our saw log plantations associated with our members are managed to world-class standards.

These South African structural pine plantations are typically managed on a 25-year rotation and would have undergone acute silvicultural management in terms of on time pruning and thinning. The main aim would be to produce high quality logs that yield structural grade lumber.

Our sawmills have various certification standards to which they subscribe: the South African Bureau of Standards, Forest Stewardship Council and SATAS.

Locally Made

Sawmilling South Africa has more than 60 sawmills as members. Many of these sawmills produce top quality South African structural pine products.

Visit our SA Sawmill Directory to enquire or request a quote directly from these sawmills.

Variety of sizes
See here a list of common South African structural pine sizes exported from South Africa.