South Africa is a world leader in practicing sustainable forest management, with 80% of timber plantations certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as being managed in a sustainable manner. The country makes a wide range of paper and paper products, and forestry sector also support furniture manufacture. Exports forestry, timber pulp and paper products to the rest of Africa account for around 60% of total South African exports of these products. Key products include doors, windows and their frames, posts and beams, assembled flooring panels and skirting boards.
The environmental stewardship of the commercial forestry sector is a big draw-card for investors desiring socially responsible investment. Domestic demand for paper products, packaging material, and timber for construction and furniture will rise along with the country’s economic growth, while export potential, especially to faster-growing countries in the rest of Africa, remains promising.
Beyond those traditional products, forest-based industries have through nano-technology and other scientific advances progressed to providing raw material for the clothing and textiles, pharmaceuticals, and food-processing sectors.
Opportunities exist in investing in operations that use locally grown timber to: make furniture domestically and for export, for school, office and home; produce packaging materials, including paper bags as an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic; and manufacture timber roof trusses, poles and frames manufacturing.