plantations of pine to eucalyptus. FSA says that the calculations about how much extra water will be needed by the latter type of tree are incorrect, and that if government regulations about the reduced size of plantations is implemented, it will have a negative impact on the sector. Sawmilling South Africa (SSA) and the Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) made an offer during the Covid-19 lockdown to share with the South African Government their skills and expertise. Sawmilling South Africa is an industry association which represents the majority of sawmillers in South Africa. By building alternative housing (with wood), it was felt that this could contribute to thinning out densely populated informal settlements to slow the spread of the virus. The Provincial Government of Mpumalanga plans to develop an Agriculture and Forestry Technology Park. The Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path (MEGDP) intends to expand the industrial base of the provincial economy with a focus on beneficiation, agro-processing and the development of value chains.
Companies Sustainability is the modern watchword but finding a way to use resources for people is also popular. The MTO Group, which has 39 900ha of plantation under management in the Lowveld, has teamed up with mountain-bike enthusiasts of White River and Nelspruit to develop a set of trails through the hilly landscape of the area. One of the biggest operations in the forestry and paper sector in Mpumalanga is Sappi’s Ngodwana mill. The mill produces 320 000 tons of paper pulp for its own consumption, 255 000 tons of dissolving pulp and 380 000 tons of paper (newsprint and kraft linerboard used for packaging) annually. Exports account for 70% of the mill’s product. Ongoing investment at Ngodwana Mill will contribute R13-billion to the provincial economy over 20 years. Sappi’s other large facility in the province, the Lomati Sawmill in Barberton, produces kiln-dried Southern African pine lumber from sawlogs supplied by Sappi Forests.
ONLINE RESOURCES Forestry South Africa: www.forestry.co.za Institute for Timber Construction South Africa: www. itc-sa.org Sawmilling South Africa: www.timber.co.za Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry of South Africa: www.tappi.org
Fo re s t r y c o m p a n i e s are look ing into energy generation, including Sappi and AFCOL. Mpumalanga has 40% of South Africa’s forestry resources. This fact presents an opportunity to exploit the sector’s byproducts in the biomass-to-energy field. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) has a stake in York Timbers and a 42.6% share in Hans Merensky Holdings, a company with timber and processing interests in three provinces. Merensky is responsible for 20% of South Africa’s sawn pine lumber. The Mondi Group has extensive forestr y holdings in the province and has been working on introducing a higher degree of mechanisation in its operations. Mondi has also instituted an ecosystem management plan throughout its forestry operations with the intention of better managing the impact its work has on the environment. Although local demand is dwindling, the expor t market for pulp and paper is strong. Pulp production figures have been on the rise for several years and companies like Mondi are increasingly focusing on p u lp ex p or t b ecau se of better margins. Komatiland Forests, a 100% owned subsidiary of state company SAFCOL, has big plantations in several districts. TWK is a R6-billion agricultural company with its headquarters in Mkhondo. ■ MPUMALANGA BUSINESS 2021/22