Gauteng Smallholder December/ January 2018 - Page 29

ALIEN SPECIES What happens to all that alien wood? T he Smallholder frequently highlights problems caused by alien vegetation, but the Dept of Environmental Affairs (DEA), in partnership with Working for Water and the Dept of Basic Education, has implemented a programme which puts cleared invasive trees to good use. The Eco-Furniture programme was established in 2012 with the intention to make optimal use of the biomass cleared through the Working for Water programme, as well as creating work opportunities, to make products that will assist the government to meet its needs. The programme also involves the SA National Parks Agency (SANParks). It was proposed that 18 factories be established throughout the whole country. So far, six have been built, including two in Gauteng, in Heidelberg and Ga-Rankuwa. The six factories in total have created 1 120 job opportuni- ties and various skills develop- ment interventions. Skills training provided for factory employees includes carpentry, chainsaw training, machine maintenance, tree felling and first aid. Invasive species such as Poplar, Eucalyptus, Pine and a small amount of Blackwood are harvested, initially in for the Dept of Basic locations near established Education. factories. The trees are Production starts with the harvested on municipal and initial clearing and timber private land. harvesting. Teams comprising Each factory comprises a wet four to eight people employ mill, dry mill, value-added workshop and a storage facility. The current production focus to date has been an order for primary and secondary school desks Chainsaw skills are among the benefits. 27 conventional or low-level mechanised harvesting techniques that mainly Continued on page 29