The forestry value chain faces many challenges. These include rising costs for transportation, labour, raw material inputs, energy and imported raw materials, exacerbated by poor road infrastructure that contributes to high maintenance costs and inefficiencies. Increasingly, climate change is an additional stressor that demands transitioning from business-as-usual practices. There is a close link between climate change and the forestry value chain. On the one hand, forests are affected by climate change physically through higher mean annual temperatures, changing precipitation patterns and more frequent and extreme weather events, and also economically through climate change related policy measures. On the other hand, forests help to mitigate climate change through sequestrating carbon if the forests are sustainably managed, but with land-use conversion and forest degradation, can contribute to climate change through more carbon emissions. Climate change thus represents both a challenge and an opportunity. As such, a proactive approach is required to harness the profitability associated with embracing sustainability.
While climate change impacts have been assessed for various ecosystems across the world, the risk to industrial forestry plantations in South Africa is not yet well understood. The objectives of this report are to identify and explore the climate-compatibility in South Africa’s forestry value chain; and to suggest solutions to address the climate-compatibility problems in South Africa’s forestry value chain.
This paper assesses opportunities in the plantation forestry industry and the role the sector can play in promoting sustainable outcomes in terms of reaping socioeconomicbenefits and safeguarding positive environmental spillover benefits in carbon sequestration,substitute habitat, and conservation. It forms part of a series of papers aimed at providing a barometer of South Africa’s transition to sustainable development.
There is a need to assess the status of plantation forestry and what can be improved to facilitate the sustainable use of land and water resources in South Africa, and spread the benefit of efficiency gains in the value chain. There is also a need to assess the barriers that can be overcome to achieve the aim of sustainably managed plantation forests and furnish new opportunities for expansions in coverage, especially in historically underdeveloped areas to create new economic opportunities for economically marginalised communities.