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Please note:SA Forestry magazine accepts no liability for damages incurred as a result of advice given on this page. The advice is freely given in good faith by experts in their field, and is drawn from their experience and not from research into the particular circumstances surrounding each question.

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Gumtree cutting business

22 March 2011

Question

I would like to start a gumtree cutting business. How would I go about doing that and what material do I need for starting out?

– Akhona

Answer

I suggest that you work with a forestry harvesting contractor for a while before starting your own timber harvesting business. Then you can see what the business involves. The basic equipment you would need is a good chainsaw, an axe (for stripping bark) and safety clothing (hard hat, gloves, steel cap boots etc). It is labour intensive work so you would need to hire employees. You also need to comply with a lot of rules and regulations eg. employment regulations, safety regulations etc. Most of the big forestry companies would only award contracts to contractors with experience. There are small growers in Zululand and around the South Coast of KZN who may need help harvesting small stands of trees – that's where you need to start looking for work to gain experience.
– Chris Chapman


Procedures and permits for beginning a pine plantation

5 March 2011

Question

If I own land and want to start a pine plantation. What is the procedure that I need to follow to possibly obtain a permit to do so?
– Heine Bellingan

Answer

To plant a pine plantation, you would need a water use licence from the Department of Water Affairs, and a planting permit from the
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It is quite a long and complex process, and you will need an EIA. The availability of
water use licences depends on the availability of water in the catchment. Your best bet may be to contact an expert consultant
specialising in forestry licence applications. Good luck.
– Chris Chapman


What it takes to become a forester

24 February 2011

Question

I am currently a forest student who loves forests so much, I would like to know for me to become good in my job as a forester, what should I do? What is needed from a student? How should I upgrade my learning in class and outside, for now I am still at tertiary level. The reason I ask this is because at the end of my diploma I want to leave school as a forester but not a student forester.
– Vusi Mnisi

Answer
You show a lot of enthusiasm and eagerness to learn. Good! With these qualities, plus a lot of hard work and dedication, you can go far. But I think that every good forester will tell you that in this business you never stop learning, so in a way you're always a 'student'. There's always somebody doing something a bit differently, so by observing others and trying new things all the time you are becoming a better forester. This process should continue throughout your working career. You need practical experience in the field, so that's where you need to get involved. Good luck with the studies!
– Chris Chapman


Starting up a small grower business

14 January 2011

Question

I have a diploma in forestry, residing in Umzimkulu south of KwaZulu-Natal, and I want to pursue a forestry business that will be providing forestry services that involves silvicultural practices, land restoration, community outgrowing schemes and so forth to the gorvernment and NGOs in the industry. I have already opened a company and I have dedicated myself to the idea as I am not working. The only challenge I am facing is getting the ball rolling due to financial constraints. I have done the feasibility study and am ready to kick start anytime soon.
Please advise – I am very keen.
– Mbuso

Answer
You need to start talking to people involved in forestry development projects, to find out what is going on, what opportunities there are to get involved, even starting on a small scale and building up from there. I suggest you contact some of the small growers in the Umzimkulu area who supply Sappi with timber. It might be worthwhile contacting the person at Sappi that the small growers work with. Or else try speak to James Ballantyne (079 516 1261) who is involved in forestry development work in your area. Good Luck!
– Chris Chapman


Beginning a forest plantation from scratch

18 December 2010

Question

 

I currently own 400 ha of grasslands and I am looking to put it to good use. My first thought was to start a plantation from scratch, effectively having a good long term investment. I have time on my side and not looking to rush anything and would therefore like to know the best way to go about this.

1. What would the best investment be as far as "plant type" for both short and long term investments, ie. Pine. Eucalyptus, wattle etc.
2. Assuming that it passes the EIA and I receive a license to plant commercially, what would the best way of going about planting - ie. Greenhouse, planting seeds and so on?
3. I would like to either read up on plantations or study something along the same lines – what could you recommend to better prepare me for this venture?
– Anthony Tweeder

Answer

The best tree species to plant depends on a lot of factors: altitude, rainfall (should be in excess of 800 mm/annum), soil type, proximity to market etc. You could get assistance in this regard from one of the timber co-ops like NCT based in Pmb, or TWK. They'd market the harvested timber for you, and advise on species etc.


The Institute for Commercial Forestry Research based at KZN University (Pmb campus) can advise on the best species to plant from a yield point of view. They do site/species matching. Getting a planting permit is costly and time consuming, and there's no guarantee you'd succeed in getting one.


Commercial forestry is regarded as a stream flow reduction activity, so it depends on water availability within the catchment you are situated in. You would need to start with the Dept Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries. Roger Godsmark at Forestry SA is a good source of info – tel: (033) 346 0344.
Good luck!
– Chris Chapman


Who to contact when starting up a wattle extract business

13 October 2010

Question

How do you start a wattle extract factory and what are all the requirements. Apart from wattle extract, what are all the other by products in this process? What would be the minimum investment to build a wattle extract manufacturing unit?
– Sridhar

Answer

Please see the article in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue of SA Forestry magazine on UCL – they operate a bark processing factory.

Processed wattle produces tanning material (powdered and solid) which is used in the leather industry and adhesives for construction.

Contact Friedel Eggers from UCL on: eggersf@uclho.co.za

– Gaylene Jablonkay


Cutting back a wattle jungle for plantation use

26 July 2010

Question

Hi, I am interested in a block of land near Grahamstown, but its got a lot of wattle on it – about 50 ha. Some of the trees are large - 80mm and bigger and not straight, but the majority of the land is covered like hair on a dog's back by wattle the size of your thumb. Is there a way to convert the young trees to managed forest and could you provide me with any articles on how to do this?
– Marcel Kroese

Answer:

The wild growing wattle that you describe sounds like what the industry calls a 'wattle jungle'. If you reduce the number of trees giving even spacing to the remaining bigger, healthier, straighter trees you could end up with some good timber after a growing period of about 10 yrs (planting to felling). But you are far from the main timber markets (pulp or chips) which are in Durban and Richards Bay. The wattle bark is also a valuable raw material with tanning extract factories in the KZN Midlands, once again distance is your problem.

The cost of transport may make it uneconomical. The bark would have to be dried, bundled and sent to UCL or NTE. Local firewood or charcoal plants could be a better alternative. Your next problem is a planting permit, issued by the Dept Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries. If you already have one you're OK, but if not you're not going to get it easily.

Commercial plantations have to be licensed. Then there are the baby wattles like 'hairs on a dog's back'. If you thin them into rows with lots of hard work (as described above) you could end up with a useful stand eventually. But wattles make millions of seeds which will keep coming up, wanted or unwanted, for up to 30 years, so good luck.
– Chris Chapman


Timber planting permits

5 July 2010

Question

I am looking at buying a piece of land of about 600ha of which 60ha are planted under timber (Pine, wattle and gum). The rest of the area is grassland which is used by the local community for grazing. If I buy this land will I be able to obtain planting permits to plant the grass area to timber? Or will I be able to plant the area without a permit? What is the current price for land in the country at the moment?
– Corlius du Plooy

Answer

Planting permits for commercial timber are very difficult to get. Need to do a full EIA and more. Most catchments are closed to timber. I have no idea about the price of land.
– Chris Chapman


Establishing a charcoal operation

6 January 2010

Question

I am looking to establish a charcoal operation.

I require portable charcoal ovens (made from steel or such) to produce the charcoal. Could you point me in the right direction? Do you know of any suppliers whom manufacture these type of ovens/kilns?
– Hanu Wilsenach

Answer

Visit this interesting website: http://www.vuthisa.com/posts/ for plans to make the ovens (you could make them yourself or give them to a local engineering company to make up for you). Otherwise, contact Gordon Potgieter on 082 652 4457, who built his own kilns on his farm in Zululand (see our Jan/Feb 09 issue or a pic of it on ourFacebook Group (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=91964957592&ref=ts)
– Gaylene Jablonkay


Social for profit venture in Eastern Cape

23 November 2009

Question

I am looking to start a social for profit venture in South Africa, focusing on the eradication of alien invasives, specifically wattle, in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. I need to procure more info with regard to the distribution of jungle wattle in the Eastern Cape region, possibly with detailed maps etc if possible. Do you currently know where I might be able to procure more info with regard to the occurence thereof? Who should I speak to? Furthermore, do you know of any possibilities of working with NGO's to procure funding for green projects such as this?

I thank you for your time, it is dearly appreciated.
– Hanu Wilsenach

Answer

There are lots of wattle jungles scattered around the Eastern Cape. Your timing is good because there is a project on the go to establish new forestry in Eastern Cape, including the conversion of wattle jungle to productive stands.

Try Stephen Keet at AsgiSA E Cape (stephen@keet.co.za); or Mike Howard of Fractal Forest, a forestry consulting business active in that area (mdhoward@iafrica.com) or Sipho Masuku at the Department Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (masukus@dwaf.gov.za).

Please let us know your progress.
– Chris Chapman


Forestry database for tendering

Question

29 January 2011

How can I be registered in a forestry database for tendering and what are the requirements?
– Lihle


Answer

It depends what kind of work you're in. You would need to contact the main forestry companies yourself and make sure you know when they advertise their tenders, and get yourself registered on their supplier databases. Sappi, Mondi, KLF, York, Merensky, NCT, Bedrock etc. There is no centralised database for forestry tenders as far as I am aware. Also you could register with one of the online tender websites, like www.onlinetenders.co.za and they will keep you posted on forestry-related tenders.

– Chris Chapman


Wanted: 14-ton contract around Nelspruit

20 June 2012

Question:
Am looking for a 14-ton contract and am staying around Nelspruit, so I don't know where to go so I can get the contract. If you do have some contact details, please provide me with them.

– Lunga

Answer:

You're going to have to contact local timber grower companies, like Bedrock, Sappi, KLF, York etc, or try Etienne at United Forest Products, tel 013 750 1112. Good luck.
– Chris Chapman


Generating income from an alien crop

22 June 2012

Question:

I am buying a farm in the Groot-Marico district. However, black wattle, about 20 ha, is also on the farm. If I want to generate an income from this pest, treefelling, debarking, (charcoal?), what equipment would I need? Can you also give me the approximate cost of the machinery and would it be a viable operation?

– Stef

Answer:

The viability of this operation depends on two things: can you find a market for the timber close by (the cost of transport can make it uneconomical); what tonnage you can get out of the plantation, which depends on age, spacing, uniformity of timber etc. So, first find a market (try Etienne Baker at United Forest Products – 013 750 1112), and then calculate roughly how much timber you can get out of a hectare. If its a good plantation with 10-year-old trees, you could get 122 tons per hectare. A manual harvesting operation requires minimal equipment: a good chainsaw or two for felling, a Bell logger for loading (or by hand) and an ordinary tractor-trailer to get the timber to a roadside depot. If you find a local charcoal manufacturer, he might buy the standing timber and do all the harvesting and transport for you. Good luck.
– Chris Chapman

 

 

 

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