The Southern Cape economy has, over the past two decades, absorbed a number of major challenges and changes, as well as number of sectorial implosions.
Primary examples to sectors which came under pressure is the vegetable (McCains/ agricultural) implosion, and the contraction of the forestry industry.
Right now, slow (national) economic growth, with talk of Mossgas permanently closing its doors post 2017, the regional economic outlook is bleak.
Fortunately, to a degree the emergence and development of the service (focussed) industry, as well as a blooming tourism industry, under- scored these traditional, but declining sectors.
Nevertheless, with a steady growth in population, the Southern Cape economy can ill afford a further decline in the formal forestry sector.
At stake is not only the re- replanting and management of the aging plantations, but the entire (regional) socio- economic value chain, dependent on a sustained supply of timber.
Perhaps of a bigger concern is a lack of government policy on the way land will be managed in the Southern Cape, given the exit of forestry in large areas, post 2020. Already, the management of large tracts of state land is "falling through the cracks". Land not managed by a specific responsible statutory entity, is quickly transformed into waste-land, prone to be overrun by invasive alien plants, erosion and soil degradation.
In an attempt to get a handle on the socio- economic/ environmental scenario, the Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), initiated a consultative process to engage with all relevant stake holders on the matter.
As a result of the consultative process, a workshop on the matter was hosted in Knysna on Friday 11 November, by Knysna Municipality as well as Knysna & Partners, to coincide with the Knysna Timber Festival.
It is envisaged that a much more representative grouping will be formed to look at scenario options within the 2017/ 18 time frame.
Says Cobus Meiring from SCLI, "it seems that the authorities, as well as most effected stake holders, are waking up to the reality that the region can no longer ignore the fact that, if there is no collective action, there will be several unintended (detrimental) social, environmental and economic consequences.
The Southern Cape Landowners Initiative (SCLI), is a public platform for landowners and land managers with a stake in the control and eradication of invasive alien plants - visit our webpage: www.scli.org