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Knysna Fires 2017 Wall of Remembrance to be unveiled at Knysna Timber Festival

Friday, 05 October 2018 08:14 Written by  Martin Hatchuel
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Knysna Fires 2017 Wall of Remembrance to be unveiled at Knysna Timber Festival Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash

A Wall of Remembrance to honour the people who lost their lives in the Knysna Fires of 2017 will be unveiled during this year’s Knysna Timber Festival.
Erected by the owners of the website, knysnafires2017.co.za (who sold bricks and raised funds for the project), in conjunction with Timber Village (who built it), the Wall of Remembrance also honours people who lost their homes, livelihoods, or possessions in the fires, as well as the firefighters, emergency teams, fire management units, Working on Fire, the South African National Defence Force, and the donors and volunteers who helped fight the fires, and who brought relief to the people of the region during and after the tragedy.
The organisers have invited the executive mayor of Knysna, Mark Willemse, as the guest of honour for the occasion, and funds raised by the project will go to skills development programmes.

This year’s Timber Festival will place particular emphasis on young people, with fun activities for littlies, information and careers guidance for teenagers, and talks by a number of knowledgeable young adults.
The Knysna Timber Initiative, which owns and runs the Festival, is keen to encourage young people to pursue careers in the timber value chain in the region - which includes sectors as diverse as plantation forestry, conservation, engineering, carpentry, joinery, and business. They’ve therefore invited to the Festival representatives from the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela University, and the South Cape TVET College (Technical Vocational Education and Training), who will share information about the courses they offer - and which you can study right here in the Garden Route.

The Festival’s speaker programme will feature:
• NMU masters student, Tiaan Strydom, who will discuss his study of how dune thicket and bird communities respond to fire. (These studies are “important for predicting compositional changes in plant and bird communities in relation to future fire regimes, and can guide management aimed at biodiversity conservation.”);
• First-year MSc Nature Conservation student, Samukelisiwe Msweli, who will talk on ‘Flammability of indigenous and invasive alien woody plants in coastal fynbos and thicket ecosystems;’
• The recently-qualified tour guide, Anita Best, who will take the audience on “a walk down memory lane with the elders of Knysna's townships,” in her talk, ‘Echoes of Silent Voices.’
Scheduled tours of Knysna’s timber factories and saw mills will showcase the process of turning raw logs into finished products, and will highlight the various career paths available in the industry. And to introduce very young children to the fun and possibilities of working with wood, there’ll be a kids’ tent and activity area where they’ll be shown how to build small items like coasters or wooden planter boxes, and how to paint and seal them with Woodoc gels.

The business of the 2018 Knysna Timber Festival will include exhibitions and demonstrations by suppliers, crafters, self-help groups, and NGOs, as well as a static display (on Sunday morning only) of Knysna’s firefighting and rescue equipment - while the spirit of the festival will overflow at the food court, with lawn games featuring oversize wooden toys (Jenga, anyone?), and (on Friday afternoon), at the Robin Hood & Forest Fairy Pageant organised by Ace Models.

The Knysna Timber Festival will take place at Timber Village on Welbedacht Lane, from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 October. The Wall of Remembrance will be unveiled on Saturday at 10:00 a.m., and the speaker programme will run on Saturday and Sunday. Please see www.timberfestival.co.za for details.
Entrance to the festival village will cost R 20.00 (to cover the costs of security, cleaning, etc.), but there’ll be no charge if you want to attend just the unveiling of the Wall of Remembrance.

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