Honourable House Chairperson, as we consider this report, the ACDP notes that South Africa’s forests are crucial for the delivery of building a capable state that serves the people. Forests are rural economic drivers and of considerable importance to the national economy, yet this industry, like so many others in South Africa, is facing several challenges.
The ACDP notes the conflict in the department given that the forestry branch, which is a directorate, has a large number of employees. Over 71 percent of the branch’s budget goes to the compensation of employees, which means only 30 percent of the allocated budget goes to forestry work… and the Directorate intends to increase the number of employees.
Citing mismanagement, the Portfolio Committee noted that the branch has forests and nurseries, that it could use to generate income but are not doing so, due to poor management. Acknowledging that targets are not met, the Minister has acknowledged that there is a breakdown across the value chain due to mismanagement and the process of maintaining the forests has broken down. This Department should be upskilling management and staff, to leverage on the vital role that wood and its husbandry plays in the economy.
According to a report by Dr. Heath, Director of Research and Protection at Forestry South Africa (FSA), the sector has been beset by economic, social, and environmental challenges.
Dr Mahango, the Chairperson of the Forest Sector Charter Council (FSCC) informed the Committee that there is need for better collaboration between government and the Council to deal with pressing issues such as timber looting and forest fires, citing a need for interdepartmental collaboration to effectively deal with issues related to land and water. Something so simple, yet this Department seems incapable of implementing.