South Africa’s SA Forestry Co. to Prioritize Log Supplies to Local Processing Companies

In response to sustained high demand for logs that continues to outpace supply, South Africa’s third largest state-owned enterprise, the SA Forestry Company (Safcol), has vowed to prioritize the supply of logs to companies that process local and employ local people. The move comes as the group gears up to introduce hi-tech machinery in the logging process and install new equipment at its sawmill in Limpopo.

On Tuesday (1-31-23), Safcol CEO Tshepo Monaheng told BusinessDay that the demand for logs, which suddenly increased during the COVID-19 by the do-it-yourself wave, has persisted on an upward trajectory. But a plethora of headwinds including timber theft, aging infrastructure, and unavailability of land for planting has plagued its ability to meet the full raw material requirements of all of Safcol’s customers.

In an attempt to pick up some of the slack inconveniencing local businesses, Monaheng said that Safcol is reviewing how it sells logs in the short term. Safcol currently runs an annual bidding process for pine and eucalyptus logs, where interested parties are given an opportunity to secure volume allocation.

A large part of Safcol’s challenges to supply lies in the company’s inability to secure additional forest areas to plant more trees. The group is looking to access existing plantations of the department of forestry, fisheries, and the environment and those belonging to municipalities “so that we can manage them well to allow our industry to have enough raw material to survive.” Increasing the availability of land available for planting trees will ensure that Safcol can produce enough timber to support local demand, Monaheng said. Pine, eucalyptus, and wattle are the main variants planted.

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