The second DANA Forestry Investment Conference was held in September at the Skukuza Conference Centre, attracting an impressive lineup of speakers from across the globe and covering a number of very interesting topics aimed at promoting investment in the African forestry industry.
Speakers , including investment consultants unpacked the current state of the forestry industry in Africa and abroad, pointing out possible investment platforms and highlighting the fact that there is a lot of growth potential in the forestry investment sector, particularly in pioneer markets and emerging markets in Africa.
One of the points that was repeatedly stressed is the fact that there is currently not enough investment into new forestry projects in South Africa to meet future demand, and that this is likely to result in South Africa having to start importing timber, which will likely lead to severe repercussions for the timber value adding industry in the country, as source countries would obviously prefer to keep the timber value adding in-house and rather export finished products.
Another hot topic was the issue of silviculture, which was brought up in nearly every presentation as a major challenge to the industry, especially from an investment point of view, where the focus is firmly on investing in hectares of plantations, with issues like silviculture often being overlooked.
Speakers included representatives from companies all over Africa, detailing the current state of the forestry industry in their respective countries and discussing the opportunities that exist for investment. Countries represented included South Africa in the form of York Timbers, Swaziland, Zambia, Mosambique, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Gabon and Malawi.
Research presentations included a talk on the need for good applied research in forestry plantation developments, presented by Andrew Morris from the ICFR, as well as a very interesting talk by Prof Steve Verryn from Merensky on the advances in breeding Eucalypt sawlog species.
The two day conference was followed by a two day road trip, where delegates visited a number of prominent nurseries, plantations, a sawmill, and value adding plants. The road trip also included a visit to the second AGFO show, which was held in White River.