Table of Contents


See also the “Wood, pulp and paper" chapter.


1. Overview

Forests include plantations, natural/indigenous forests and woodlands/savannas. All activities linked to these fall under the umbrella of “forestry”. A look at the menu options of websites listed in this chapter will confirm the scope of forestry. The Center for International Forestry Research (, for example, has “Climate change”, “Gender”, “Livelihoods”, “Forest management”, “Food & biodiversity”, “Landscapes” and more. 

In addition to timber and related products, forests offer non-timber products and activity. They play a big part in our fauna and flora. Fruits, plants, medicinal herbs, birds and animals are found here. Trees protect watersheds and conserve the soil. They purify water and moderate its flow. They produce oxygen and help the planet against global warming. Often tourist activity incorporates forests or woodland area (South Africa's Kruger National Park is a woodland area).

Our chapter focuses more on plantations. It is interested in forestry as “the science of planting, managing and caring for timber plantations”. Not that forestry, defined like this, lessens the undertaking. The landscape, the plant and animal species found within them, and the communities affected by them all still require attention. (See the notes by Forestry Explained on what goes with these enterprises at

Forestry gives us several sectors downstream, like sawmilling, furniture making, paper and pulp production. For more on this, see the "Wood, pulp and paper" chapter.

Agroforestry is when trees are incorporated among other activities on the farm with environmental and other benefits. Interested readers are referred to the following sources:


2. International business environment

Find the “International News” section at

South Africa’s plantation area is 1.3 million hectares. This figure is dwarfed by that of other countries: 47 million hectares in China, 32 million hectares in India, 17 million hectares in Russia and 16 million in the USA (Forestry SA, 2016). The top producers of pulpwood are the USA, Brazil, China, Russia, Sweden, Indonesia, Canada, Finland, Chile and Poland. The top sawlog producers are the USA, Canada, Russia, Brazil, China,Sweden, Indonesia, Germany and Finland.

Loss of forests leads to a loss of biodiversity and diminishes the planet's ability to withstand global warming. The main threats to the world’s forests are conversion to agriculture, illegal logging, population growth and urbanisation, and poverty. Globally, what mainly causes concern for the management of forests, is deforestation through the illegal cutting down of trees, the expansion of logging into areas which are protected or of high conservation value (HCV), and timber supply from controversial sources.

South Africa: imports and exports

  • The Agricultural Policy Action Plan (APAP) identifies this sector as ranking amongst the top exporting industries in the country (APAP, 2015: 12).
  • About 75% of the timber produced in South Africa is exported, mainly as wood chips but also in the form of treated poles and sawn timber. [ABSA, 2016]
  • The South African timber market follows world price trends.

Useful websites

Find the forestry pages on the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) website,

The Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)'s publications pages include titles on forest management, forest research, forest degradation, and many more resourceful tools for scientists and those concerned about the future of the world's forests. Visit - the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF), the successor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) - Global Association of Online Foresters

Read about New Generation Plantations (NGP) at