Forestry, sawmill industries count heavy cost of Garden Route fires

12 December 2018 - 13:35 By Dave Chambers
A trail of destruction was left by the wildfires that spread across the Garden Route at the end of October 2018. Ten people died and a R100m sawmill was destroyed.
A trail of destruction was left by the wildfires that spread across the Garden Route at the end of October 2018. Ten people died and a R100m sawmill was destroyed.
Image: Garden Route District Municipality

Replanting timber plantations destroyed in the recent Garden Route fires will cost around R80m, according to industry estimates.

A total of 76km² of private plantations – mainly pine – were totally or partly destroyed in the fires that raged between October 25 and November 16, according to Sawmilling SA and Forestry SA on Wednesday.

The plantations ranged from one to 25 years old, with two-thirds older than 16 years.

"This will have a major negative influence on the future ability of the forestry industry in the region to produce the timber needed to supply the processing plants that rely on this resource," said the statement.

"Many jobs in the timber-growing sector will be permanently lost. Forestry infrastructure was also destroyed."

A sawmill in the Geelhoutvlei valued at more than R100m was burnt down in the fires – which claimed 10 lives - leaving 400 people unemployed.

"After the devastating fires of July 2017, the latest fires pose a severe risk to the sustainability of both the forestry and processing industries in the southern Cape.  Both Forestry SA and Sawmilling SA are working hard to ensure that the future of these industries will be secured," said the statement.


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