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Working Paper 52: Job creation in agriculture, forestry and fisheries in South Africa An analysis of employment trends, opportunities and constraints in forestry and wood products industries

by Jeanette Clarke in 2018

This report is one of five studies of opportunities and constraints related to employment creation in rural South Africa, with a view towards informing policy. South African forestry and wood products industries are well established, internationally competitive, and contribute significantly to GDP and export earnings. Plantations and downstream industry currently provide an estimated 236 502 jobs. Growth and employment creation in the sector are constrained by some key factors. Limited water availability in catchments suitable for afforestation limits the total extent of timber plantations. This is turn limits the supply of timber to value chains. Trends towards labour outsourcing and mechanisation have negatively impacted on the quality and number of jobs in forest plantations. Despite these limitations, estimates compiled in this study suggest that some 82 000 jobs and livelihood opportunities could be created through restructuring and revitalisation of existing timberlands as well as expansion of plantations in communal lands. Key to realising these opportunities are accelerated land reform, building effective and democratic governance within communal lands, provision of forestry development finance, improving support services through public-private partnerships, building capacity and political will in the public sector, improving transport infrastructure and lowering transport costs, and supporting legality and certification of emerging growers. Significant additional opportunities for job creation lie in further industrialisation of forestry value chains. Key interventions recommended include developing biomass energy markets and technology, further industrialisation of the dissolving wood pulp value chain, research and development in wood waste bio-refinery, and support for furniture making and wooden construction technology.

Keywords: South Africa, employment, mechanisation, job creation, forestry, timber plantations, wood product value chains, land reform