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The success of the fifth Knysna Timber Festival - held at Timber Village over the weekend of 5-7 October, 2018 - was a powerful demonstration of the Garden Route’s resilience in the aftermath of last year’s devastating fires, which seriously affected the timber value chain.

Morne Smith, chairperson of the Knysna Timber Initiative (which owns and organises the event), said that the Festival attracted 3,000 visitors - consumers as well as members of the various sectors of the timber industry.

“Exhibitors I spoke to expressed their satisfaction with the networking opportunities that the Festival offered, the sales they made from their stands, and the fact that they experienced the festival as a well-organised event that’s maturing into an important part of their marketing campaigns,” he said.

The Festival saw the unveiling of a Wall of Remembrance to honour the nine people who lost their lives, those who lost their possessions, and those who rallied together to help the community of the Garden Route during and after the Knysna Fires of 2017.

Speaking at the ceremony, Executive Deputy Mayor, Councillor Ricky van Aswegen, noted that “the kindness with which we all treated each other during and after the catastrophe.”

Mr. Smith said that the Festival’s skills development workshop (hosted by the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Timber Initiative with support from Wesgro - the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade, and investment promotion organisation) attracted players from across the timber value chain.

“It was a very valuable morning of discussion that provided clarity on the way forward for training and skills development in the timber industry and related sectors,” he said.
“This is significant because skills are the foundation for the entire timber economy.”

Mr. Smith said that this year’s Festival attracted local and national exhibitors. The Masters and Makers exhibition - which was a fringe event, which ran for the first time this year - was very well attended, and provided a platform for the highly-skilled artists and craftspeople of the Garden Route. And the general exhibition area in the Festival village once again provided an immensely useful platform for networking, sales and marketing - and it yielded some unexpected businesses, too,” he said.
One such was blacksmith Keagon West of Metal Machine Forge, near Rondevlei.

“Although my business isn’t directly involved in the timber industry, the Festival was great because I met a lot of new people and learned a lot about the timbers that I use in my hand-forged knives and axes,” he said.

“But I’m also passionate about training and education, and I plan to set up apprenticeships to teach people how to make and use hand tools, how to do general steelwork, and so on - and these are skills that the timber industry needs.”

Mr. Smith said that the KTI will announce the final date for next year’s Festival shortly. “Provisionally, though, we expect it’ll be on the second weekend of the September school holidays.”

Please watch the press and www.timberfestival.co.za for details.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for high res images

Published in Festivals & events

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.

Published in Festivals & events

Players in the Garden Route’s timber industry and in the timber industry value chain are invited to a stakeholder workshop that will examine improving the region’s timber economy - and the lives and careers of the people who work in it - through skills development and training.

Hosted by the Knysna Municipality and the Knysna Timber Initiative with support from Wesgro (the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade, and investment promotion organisation), the workshop will take place on 5 October at Knysna Hollow Country Estate.

Knysna Hollow will reopen just in time for the event after a total rebuild in the wake of last year’s devastating fires.
Entitled, ‘Skills Development as enabler to the regional timber industry growth and development,’ the workshop is the first item on the programme of this year’s Knysna Timber Festival (5-7 October, 2018).

The high calibre of speakers and presenters - all of whom have the deepest level of experience in their fields - reflects the organisers’ position on skills and skills development: that they rank amongst the region’s most immediate and pressing needs.

Members of the industry attending the workshop will have ample opportunities for providing their invaluable input.

Dr. Florus Prinsloo (Apprenticeship Game Changer lead with DEDAT - the Western Cape’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism) will set the scene for the day’s discussion through his presentation, ‘Skills Development as an Enabler to Industry Growth and Development’.

Dr. Prinsloo holds an MBA from the UK’s Henley Management College, and a Doctorate in Organisational Leadership from the University of Johannesburg. During his career, he has worked at executive level for the Department of Labour’s Employment and Skills Development Branch, as CEO of the Mining and Minerals Sector Education Training Authority, and as a technical advisor on the Artisan Development System for the Department of Higher Education. He has also been appointed by the Deputy President to serve on the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa.

Paul Hoffman, project manager of the South Cape Economic Development Partnership, a member of the timber economy work group, and the managing member of H2P Project Management (a business consultancy concerned with export development, and with marketing and strategic planning) will discuss emerging opportunities in the timber economy.
Based in George, Mr. Hoffman is well known in the Southern Cape, having served as the senior business advisor and acting branch manager for SEDA in the region, and as the project manager for SEDA’s CBI export capacity building programme, which assisted numerous companies in the craft, design and small furniture sectors during his watch. (Situated in The Hague, CBI is the Centre for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries, a programme funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.)

Leigh Hayes, Western Cape regional manager of the Fibre Processing and Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M SETA), will talk on ‘Timber Industry Training & Skills Development: FP&M SETA’s Plan & Programme towards developing and implementing Occupational Qualifications.’
Before transferring to the Western Cape, Ms. Hayes worked as the FP&M SETA’s regional manager for KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Free State; and before that, she spent fifteen years auditing and accrediting training providers for learnerships and apprenticeships, with specific emphasis on quality management systems, learning programmes and site capacity.

During a session entitled, ‘Mapping Industry Skills Demand and Supply,’ Dr. Prinsloo and Mr. Hoffman will seek industry input on mapping scarce and critical skills demand in the industry value chain (planting, harvesting, milling, construction, design, manufacturing, export, retail, etc.); SETA representatives will provide an overview of accredited skills providers and initiatives in the region; and Dr. Prinsloo will discuss the identification of gaps and project opportunities in the timber economy.
The morning will wrap up with an update on the Knysna Timber Initiative by KTI chairperson and technical director of Fechters Furniture, Morné Smith.

The organisers of the Knysna Timber Festival are committed to bringing young people into the timber economy. For this reason, they’ve made space available for representatives from Saasveld - the George Campus of Nelson Mandela University - to attend the Festival on Saturday from 11:00 to 1:00 to meet young people from the region, so that they can offer advice to anyone looking to study for a tertiary education here in the Garden Route.

Courses available in George include extended programmes, national diplomas, and bachelor of technology (B. Tech) degrees in agricultural management, forestry, game ranch management, nature conservation, and wood technology; diplomas in management practice, marketing management, and tourism management; B.Com degrees with various specialities like accounting, etc.; higher certificates in information technology user support services; and postgraduate diplomas in labour law.

There’ll also be a hands-on, painting-on-wood and build-your own wooden boxes programme for very young children in order to expose them to the fun and possibilities of working with wood.

The Knysna Timber Festival’s programme of speakers, events, and entertainment for 2018 has been posted to www.timberfestival.co.za

Members of the timber value chain who wish to attend the Garden Route Regional Timber Industry Stakeholder Workshop from 09h00 to 14h00 on 5 October should should please reserve their places by mailing Petrus van Niekerk (Knysna Municipality - Economic Development) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Festivals & events

The Knysna Timber Initiative (KTI) has invited exhibitors for its annual Knysna Timber Festival, which will take place from 5 to 7 October, 2018.

According to KTI chairperson, Morne Smith, arrangements for the Festival are well underway - with an exciting programme of exhibitors, talks, and product and skills demonstrations.

The Festival will kick off with a Garden Route Regional Timber Industry Stakeholder Workshop hosted by KTI and and the Knysna Municipality, and sponsored by Wesgro (the Western Cape Province’s tourism, trade, and investment promotion organisation). The workshop will take place on Friday morning, 5 October.

“Skills and skills development are probably amongst our most immediate needs, which is why the workshop will focus on  training,” said Smith. “We’ve lined up some top-rate speakers - including Apprenticeship Game Changer Lead in the Province’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Dr. Florus Prinsloo, Wesgro’s Denan Kuni, and Paul Hoffman of the South Cape Economic Partnership - who we believe will make this one of the most relevant workshops that we’ve had in this region in a while because they can be expected to provide us with workable answers to some of our challenges.”

While the workshop will be open to industry players, the festival precinct itself will play host both to members of the tourism economy, and to members of the public. According to festival manager Picca de Bruin, exhibition spaces are still available in the marquees as well as in the outdoor display areas.

“As always, we’ll be welcoming everyone in the family to the Festival, which is an important platform for introducing young people - especially - to the value and opportunities inherent in wood and timber. But it’s not only about the serious stuff of course: as always, there’ll be plenty of entertainment, our traditional beer garden, and activities for the kids,” she said. 

Please visit www.timberfestival.co.za for contact details and more information.
Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash

Published in Festivals & events
Thursday, 05 October 2017 07:21

Knysna Timber Festival: the Phoenix soars

From total destruction in the fires of 7 June, to “most successful festival ever” in just three months: the 2017 Knysna Timber Festival (29 September – 1 October) has been hailed as both a triumph, and a cathartic, life-affirming experience.

“The Knysna Timber Initiative decided at its very first meeting after the fires that the Festival would go ahead by hook or by crook – despite the fact that both the venue, Timber Village, and my home and office – with all the Festival documents and records - were completely burned to the ground,” said Festival manager, Picca de Bruin.

“It was a massive effort, but the spirit of cooperation and the incredible support we received from everyone paid off on the day.

“Our visitor numbers were up (more than 2,000 people came into the festival grounds on Saturday alone); a number of visitors – including bowl-turners from Pretoria - flew in specifically for the event; the Fechters/Woodoc Food for Wood/Ezigro Karata Nurseries children’s programme was sold out; Chef Melven Mene of Usatsho Tshisanyama & Catering ran out of supplies on at least one occasion and had to go into town to get more to feed the amazing crowd of people who seemed to kuier and kuier; and the number of out-of-town exhibitors grew from about 5% of the total on show last year to 25% this year,” she said.

Ms. de Bruin said that media coverage generated by the Festival for Knysna as a timber destination exceeded all expectations.

“SABC sent a reporter and cameraman who put together a 2-minute, 11-second slot that was screened on prime-time TV news, and Derrich Gardner interviewed me on his RSG programme, Brêkfis met Derrich, on Saturday morning – and, together with exposure in Timber IQ and SA Forestry magazines, as well as in our local Knysna-Plett Herald and the many on-line publications that supported us, this year’s festival drew more media attention than any we’ve done in the past.

“In terms of the #KnysnaRises campaign, this was invaluable coverage, and we’re sure that we can directly attribute it to the goodwill that surrounded the Festival from the day we decided that it had to go ahead,” she said.

Exhibitor Cheryl Liepner of Country Ways – a Knysna-based business that restores furniture, and makes new furniture from old wood – wasn’t ready to exhibit at first. She and her husband, Nick, lost their house on the family farm near Karatara, outside Knysna, and their shop on Old Cape Road, and their son, Zak, lost his home next door to Timber Village in the fires.

“I couldn’t face it,” she said. “My biggest fear was that everyone would be talking about the fires, and we’re still trying to come to terms with losing everything – including all the stock from our 28-year-old business.

“But Daniel (Hennessy, one of the owners of Timber Village) called and offered us a sponsored stall, and persuaded us to come – and I’m so pleased we did.

“It was ten times better than last year, even though we had very little on show. It was just fantastic.

“We saw a very different crowd of people this year, and we did have to speak about the fire, but everyone was genuinely interested in our work, and how we’re rebuilding, so it was good to talk about it after all.

“And that genuine interest means so more than when people say things like ‘I’m sorry.’

“We were also positioned next to Barry Foulkes of Ciranova floor coatings from Cape Town, and it was fantastic to see and share his enthusiasm for wood and timber products.

“Losing everything in a fire teaches you not to become too comfortable. If I’d watched the farm animals, I would probably have known that it was coming our way, and made different arrangements – but now I know I must never get comfortable again.

“Nevertheless, the Knysna Timber Festival was a wonderful experience that’s helped us all enormously,” she said. (All Ms. Liepner’s farm animals – horses, pigs, turkeys, and even a chicken with a damaged leg – fled the fires, but returned to the farm two days later.)

For his part, Barry Foulkes of Ciranova High Quality Woodcare Products – which exhibited for the first time at the Knysna Timber Festival this year – was “hugely impressed with the show.

“Whenever we exhibit in the big cities, everyone’s only interested in price – but here, we found that the people we met wanted to understand our products, and they were genuinely curious about what they can do.

“There was a such a great community spirit, too, and it was a rare opportunity to meet the local trade, and to speak directly to the people who make the decisions,” he said.

“We’ll definitely be back next year.”

And that, said Ms. de Bruin, was exactly why the Knysna Timber Initiative went to such extraordinary lengths to present the 2017 Knysna Timber Festival with the help of the Knysna Municipality and Wesgro.

“The festival’s slogan is ‘Our heritage rooted in wood,’ and its job is to remind us that we grow together when we work together,” she said.




Media release for the Knysna Timber Festival by
Martin Hatchuel CPRP
084 951 0574
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Published in Festivals & events

The organisers of the Knysna Timber Festival (at Timber Village from 29 September to 1 October) have announced the line-up of headline speakers for the event. 

“The focus this year will definitely be on rebuilding as #KnysnaRises after the fires of 7 June,” said festival manager, Picca de Bruin. “And that means both the physical act of rebuilding, and the restoration of ourselves as people through art and culture.”
The speakers will include:

Dalena Wolmarans on ‘The Art of the indigenous tree.’
Ms. Wolmarans is a third-generation timber merchant and timber transport contractor with “sawdust in her veins.” She believes that Knysna’s indigenous forest “is nothing less than a work of art.”
“This works on many levels,” she said. “The individual species that grow here have individual temperaments – just like artists do – and each individual tree is an artwork in itself
“In my talk I’ll be comparing the personalities of the different trees that I work with – yellowwood, stinkwood, ironwood, boekenhout, and others – with famous artists, and in this way, opening the art gallery all around us to everyone.”

Pam Booth on ‘Making use of wood waste.’
Ms. Booth is the head of the Knysna Municipality’s Environmental Management section.
“Catchment management involves the felling of tons and tons of invasive plant material,” she said. “This poses a fire risk, and also causes the removal of massive amounts of nutrients from the system.
“But it doesn’t have to be a negative thing: there are many different ways of processing that waste usefully, and in my talk I’ll discuss biochar, compost, housing and goats.”
“Yes, goats.” (We can only wonder.)

Lyn Beaton on ‘The art of the wooden marionette.’
Ms. Beaton is a professionally trained fine artist who teaches locally.
“I’ll be exhibiting some of my hand-carved wooden marionettes, and selling my pen and ink drawings of indigenous trees in the Timber Festival marquee - and in my talk I’ll be explaining how I make the puppets, discussing some of the tools I use, and demonstrating how they operate,” she said.

Marius van der Merwe on ‘Processing biomass into biocarbon and energy.”
Mr. van der Merwe is an inventor-engineer, and the founder of NewCarbon (Pty) Ltd, which develops innovative technologies to process biomass to produce biocarbon, wood vinegar, and heat energy, “which are processes that have the potential to transform the community, the environment and local economies.”

“The Knysna Timber Festival is an excellent opportunity for sharing ideas, techniques and technologies, and the programme will include a number of showings of a video titled, ‘The Living Heritage of Knysna,’ as well as numerous product demonstrations by exhibitors like Strand Hardware and Vermont Sales, and Ezigro Karatara Nursery - which will be showing its tree bicycle that’s used for climbing trees in order to harvest pine cones for their seeds, and living material for tree grafting,” said Ms. De Bruin.
She said that the Festival is designed for everyone.
“Kids’ activities will include building your own planter box, and decorating it with gel stains by Woodoc Food for Wood – and there’ll be a food court with live music, and a beer garden for thirsty adults.
“The complete programme will be posted on the web site, on Facebook (facebook.com/KnysnaTimberFestival/) and in Action Ads,” she said.
A limited number of exhibition stands are available for companies that produce timber products, or provide goods and services related to timber. For details, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.timberfestival.co.za.


Media release for the Knysna Timber Festival by

Martin Hatchuel CPRP
084 951 0574
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Festivals & events

Two major industry players have signed up to exhibit at this year's Knysna Timber Festival (29 September to 1 October).

“The event will take place as #KnysnaRises after the fires that devastated the Garden Route in June, and we're expecting it to be an awesome and very positive opportunity for everyone who has an interest in timber – professionals, builders, woodworkers, hobbyists, and homeowners alike - to get together, to share ideas, and to inspire one another,” said festival manager Picca de Bruin.

“The Timber Festival will go ahead at our traditional venue - Timber Village in Welbedacht Lane - which was completely ruined in the fires, but which is currently being rebuilt.

“And while we're obviously deeply aware that the old sheds are no longer there, the indoor exhibitions at the Festival have always taken place in separate marquees that we've always erected specifically for the expo.”

Ms. de Bruin said that two of the country's biggest importers and suppliers of woodworking power tools and accessories – Strand Hardware and Vermont Sales - have between them booked all the available floor space in one of the Festival's two marquess.

“Strand Hardware https://www.strandhardware.co.za/ distributes a wide range of woodworking machinery, power tools and accessories, woodturning lathes and turning and carving tools, and items for hobbyists like pen kits, and clock movements – while Vermont Sales http://www.vermontsales.co.za/ supplies well-known brands like Tork Craft power tool accessories, Alpen drill bits, Pro-Tech router bits, Festool power tools, Kreg Tool specialist jigs, clamps, and pocket-hole machines, and many others,” she said.

The second marquee will house a varied mix of furniture manufacturers like Fechters of Knysna, JB Furniture Manufacturers, and Touw Meubels; artists like Lyn Beaton and Brandon Perkus; timber suppliers like Rarewoods; timber builders like T&B Log Homes; and specialist suppliers like Fixtec (which sells fasteners for the wood industry), Huidtjies vir Bytjies, which makes and sells natural wooden beehives.

“We're also looking forward to seeing Woodoc Food For Wood here, with its Owl Box project – which could make a real difference to the local population of owls which must have lost much of their habitat due to the fires,” said Ms. De Bruin.

The Knysna Timber Festival will include a programme of talks and demonstrations – and, of course, a food court and beer garden with Mitchell's on tap and live entertainment.

“As always, outdoor space will be available for companies that specialise in heavy machinery and plantation equipment, and we're always open to creative ideas that'll help us improve the Festival experience for everybody.

“We want to accommodate as many exhibitors as we can - so please contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to ensure that your company is on show as #KnysnaRises at the 2017 Knysna Timber Festival,” said Ms. De Bruin.

Please visit www.timberfestival.co.za for detailed information.


Media release for the Knysna Timber Festival by
Martin Hatchuel CPRP
084 951 0574
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in Festivals & events

The Knysna Timber Initiative has invited exhibitors to book their stands early for this year’s Knysna Timber Festival, which will take place from 29 September to 1 October.

The event will go ahead at its traditional venue at Timber Village, which is currently being rebuilt after having been destroyed in the fires.
“We’re hoping that suppliers and businesses that use timber will come up with creative ideas to showcase the value of wood to us all - both as the Garden Route rebuilds, and in the economy in general,” said festival manager Picca de Bruin.
“With additional space available this year, we’ve got room for things like mock-ups - the partially-built wall of a timber-frame house, for example - which illustrate timber’s versatility.”

Ms. De Bruin said that the organisers are hoping that suppliers of heavy machinery - plantation equipment, tractors, mills, pole strippers, and so on - will take the opportunity to show their products to the market.
“This year’s Festival is going to be even more important than ever because it’ll be the first opportunity after the fires for everyone in the industry to meet up, and share creative new ways of restarting and re-growing the Garden Route’s timber economy.”
She said that space will be available in both indoor (well, in-marquee) and outdoor exhibitions and demonstrations areas for timber growers, timber merchants, timber buyers, wood millers, tool suppliers, furniture manufacturers, boat builders, architects, designers, decorators, builders, and hobbyists.

This year’s Festival will be presented with the help of Sanlam, and the programme will include talks, presentations, and films about wood and working with wood - with activities for children and adults alike, and with a happy entertainment area with live music, a beer tent, and a children’s play space.
“One of the highlights for many of us will be seeing Knysna’s new Wood-Mizer LT20B Diesel portable sawmill in operation for the first time,” said Ms de Bruin.
“Wood-Mizer’s international head office donated it to the Knysna Timber Initiative to help with the rebuilding of damaged houses, and, in the longer-term, for training operators in the use of band saw mills - and we’re currently building a shed to house it permanently at Timber Village.
“Woodoc Food for Wood will also be with us with its Woodoc Owl Box Project, since they’re keen to get more kids involved in the Festival - and in woodworking in general,” she said.

“Stands are selling fast, and we want to accommodate as many exhibitors as we can - so please contact me as soon as possible on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to make sure that your company’s on show as #KnysnaRises at the 2017 Knysna Timber Festival,” said Ms. De Bruin.
Please visit www.timberfestival.co.za for detailed information.

Media release for the Knysna Timber Festival by Martin Hatchuel CPRP 084 951 0574 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. www.thistourismweek.co.za

Published in Festivals & events
Friday, 04 August 2017 03:56

Knysna Timber Festival will go ahead

The Knysna Timber Festival 2017 will go ahead as planned from 29 September to 1 October - and it'll take place as usual at its traditional venue at Timber Village, despite the fact that Timber Village was burned to the ground during the town's recent devastating fires.

The Knysna Timber Initiative - the organisers of the event - see this year's festival as an important milestone during which members of the industry can meet and help one another in restarting and re-growing the Garden Route's hard-hit timber economy. "Everyone was affected by the fires, and everyone's rebuilding with a strong spirit of community," said the initiative's chairperson, Morné Smith.

"The timber industry provides jobs and incomes for thousands of people in the region, and the festival is an opportunity to showcase the deep level of skills - and the high quality of the products - for which Knysna has become famous."

Festival Highlights
The exhibitors at this year's festival have been drawn from a broad spectrum of the timber economy - furniture manufacturers, timber growers, wood millers, timber buyers and members of the timber construction industry. Indoor and outdoor exhibitions and demonstration areas will provide spaces for conversations, talks, presentations, and films about wood and working with wood.

And with an entertainment area with live music, a beer tent, and children's play space, this year's Knysna Timber Festival will cater for the whole family.

About those owls
One of the most important aspects of the festival is that it's a platform for training and the transfer of skills. This year Woodoc Food for Wood will be sponsoring the training programme. Woodoc will also present their Woodoc Owl Box Project - which is particularly appropriate this year as people around the Garden Route do whatever they can for the birds, bees, and wild animals that were also severely affected by the fires.

Visit www.timberfestival.co.za for detailed information.

Published in Festivals & events

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


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