The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.
By promoting forests’ sustained survival, we ensure our economy, ecosystem, and species also continue to thrive. The day promotes Sustainable Development Goals where forest-dependent communities can continue to grow and come out of poverty.
The theme for each International Day of Forests is chosen by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The theme for 2022 is "Forests and sustainable production and consumption."
Responsible forestry requires attention to sustainable, efficient, and effective practices that have the lowest environmental impact and yield the greatest social and economic benefit, while producing an array of renewable and versatile end products.
Forestry Facts in South Africa
- South Africa is a lightly forested country with a plantation area of about 1,27 million ha or about 1% of the total South African land area. Most of South Africa’s forestry plantations are located in Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Other plantations are spread across the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Western Cape.
- The South African forestry industry employs about 160 000 people which also includes the pulp and paper industry, sawmilling, timber board and timber mining.
- The forestry sector is significant for our economy and is responsible for 11% of the country’s agricultural GDP and 5% of manufacturing GDP.
- The forest products industry also ranks among the top exporting industries in the country.
- South Africa has an amazing biodiversity with more than 1 700 tree and shrub species. Some are threatened, and 47 species are protected.
- National Arbour Week is celebrated every year around the ﬁrst week in September, to promote the planting of indigenous trees.
- Commercial forest plantations meet most of South Africa’s demand for wood, making the country mainly self-sufﬁcient with regard to timber requirements. Plantations of exotic species are commercially successful and cover about 1,2% of arable, agricultural land.
- There are three main types of trees that grow on commercial South African plantations: pine (44%), Eucalyptus (44%) (also known as blue gum) and wattle (12%).
- The plantation forests of South Africa use just 3% of the country’s total water resources. Irrigation is never utilised in forest plantation management, but this means that rainfall needs to be higher than 750 mm per year in areas where commercial forestry is practised.
- The commercial forestry industry in South Africa is committed to sustainable forest management and follows strict environmental codes of practice in all plantations and processing activities. Specific species of trees are planted, harvested and replanted in sustainable rotation. This process ensures that there are trees at various stages of maturity, ready to harvest for generations to come.
“Forests are the world’s air-conditioning system – the lungs of the planet – and we are on the verge of switching it off.” – Prince Charles