Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies can contribute to the need for imports to support the industry.

The forestry and forest products industry in South Africa is worth more than $4.88 billion annually, presenting a significant opportunity for U.S. hardwoods, which amount to about $12 million in imports annually. In 2013, the forestry and forest products industry contributed R72.6 billion (approximately $5.8 billion) to South Africa’s GDP; the timber sector contributed R10.9 billion ($833 million); the wood, paper, publishing and printing sector contributed R32.4 billion ($2.4 billion); and the furniture sector contributed R27.2 billion ($2.1 billion). The forestry sector is a major contributor to the South African economy through its diversified forest products. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is the custodian of South Africa’s forest resources, which cover over 40 million hectares (about 37 percent of the country’s land surface area). Although forestry contributes a modest 0.7 percent to the country’s GDP, it supports manufacturing subsectors such as sawmilling and paper and pulp production, as well as mining and construction.

In 2015, South Africa had an estimated 60,200 direct jobs in the forestry sector. The total land area of South Africa is 122.3 million hectares, with only 1 percent (1.2 million hectares) utilized for forestry. Statistics from Forestry South Africa (FSA) for 2015 revealed that the province with the highest percentage of plantation is Mpumalanga (40.5%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (39.9%), Eastern Cape (11.6%), Western Cape (4.0%), and Limpopo with 3.9%.

According to Forestry South Africa, pine and eucalyptus are the predominant species in the South African forestry industry, with a plantation area of 51 percent and 42 percent respectively. An analysis of the trends of commercial forestry hectares planted by tree type and primary use indicates that there has been a marked decline in both softwood and hardwood plantation hectares planted since the mid-1990s, and there has also been a marked increase in hectares for pulpwood purposes, relative to hectares for saw logs and mining timber. Underlying these trends are various factors, but in particular the tighter regulatory framework governing water usage results in forestry being regarded as a water diversion land use, and therefore, permits are required to expand the plantation area.