GEORGE, South Africa, 30 November 2013 - Forest resource depletion due to the effects of climate change, forest fires and failing reforestation, as well as sub-standard and wasteful logging and wood-processing practices, are some of the challenges faced by the forestry and wood industry in the countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
In response, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have joined forces to assist with the development of sustainable forestry and wood-processing sectors in the region.
Representatives of forestry education and training institutions from Malawi, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, together with FAO and UNIDO officials, met for a three-day project development meeting in George, South Africa, from 27 to 29 November.
Participants at the meeting validated the findings of an initial situation analysis of a project titled, “Strengthening Forestry Training Centres and Wood Industries for Green Employment in the SADC Region”.
One of the participants, Professor Josh Louw from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Natural Resource Management Department in George, said, “We have similar challenges related to sustainable forest resources management and utilization. The expertise exists within the region and this should be utilized by creating regional South-South collaboration between the SADC countries.”
Joyce Gombe, Principal of the Zimbabwe College of Forestry and Forest Industries Training Centre (FITC), added, “We can learn from each other and duplicate best practices among the different institutions. For example, the FITC in Zimbabwe is a unique institution in the SADC region, offering in-depth training in primary wood-processing and saw doctoring. This expertise should be better utilized in the region.”
UNIDO and FAO had jointly mobilized funds for a preparatory assistance grant to carry out an initial situation analysis and stakeholder consultation. The collaboration follows a memorandum of understanding signed between the two organizations to cooperate in the field of forestry and wood industries, among others.
Jukka Tissari from FAO said, “FAO can bring its expertise in sustainable forest management, including forest inventories and valuation techniques, which are important in ensuring that the primary resource is developed sustainably. The region-wide move towards private sector-led small-grower forestry calls for a strengthening of social forestry and entrepreneurship skills. UNIDO has a role to play in training and job creation in the forestry and wood industries, which are crucial aspects for rural employment and poverty reduction. By joining forces, FAO and UNIDO can achieve a bigger impact on the overall task of developing a sustainable forestry and wood industry in SADC region”.
The results from the George meeting will be used to develop a fully-fledged regional programme, with national projects, with an initial inception phase of 6-12 months. The project will use innovative teaching and training techniques such as virtual learning environment, mobile and distance learning methods, as well as public-private development partnerships, to connect the countries and stakeholders in the SADC region with best practices abroad in order to maximize and share the strengths that each country has to offer.
For further information, please contact:
UNIDO Project Manager