This month, Forestry South Africa (FSA) is celebrating women in forestry. Over the next few weeks, FSA will be publishing the stories of 24 women in a series of profiles on www.forestryexplained.co.za. With more than 320 years experience among them in a variety of roles, these women show that no job is off limits as long as you have the passion and dedication required.
- “Women like myself operate machines and there is scope to learn and improve. I started out as a general worker, so forestry definitely provides opportunities for growth.” Ephine Mogakane, SAFCOL – Senior Operator Forwarder
- “Forestry is not stagnant — every day comes with exciting challenges. This aspect is so fulfilling and makes me love my job more every day.” Doni Sithole, Mondi – Senior Silviculture Forester
- “Forestry develops legends! You must love it to do it as your work becomes your life.” Dorothy Makoetlana, Stevens Lumber Mills – Silviculture Forester
- “Research in forestry is a great career to get into at the moment. There are a lot of exciting projects under way that will help us plant more sustainable forests in the years to come. It’s great to be a part of that!” Lizette de Waal, York Timbers – Tree breeder
“Some have dedicated their lives to the sector, others are just at the start of their career, but all have one thing in common – the wish to dispel the myth that forestry is a man’s world,” says Michael Peter, executive director of FSA. "Their success is testament to how our sector has embraced and benefited from the skills and qualities women bring to the industry."
In turn, the forestry sector gives women the opportunity to contribute to a challenging and ever-evolving industry that produces essential everyday items – from furniture to face wash, pencils to paper and a myriad of novel products all made from the wood of locally farmed trees. It is an industry where there is always room to grow, where you are part of a globally recognised community and have the opportunity to work outdoors with leaders in multiple fields.
Khosi Mavimbela, executive director of the Forest Sector Charter Council, says, “It is little wonder why women in forestry are proud of what they do and all they have achieved. These women want to plant a seed of inspiration in the mind of others, who many not have thought about a career in forestry, but could greatly benefit from one.”
By sharing their story of triumph and growth within the industry, FSA hopes other women will follow in their footsteps and the myth that forestry is a male-only workforce will be busted once and for all.
- “While forestry is not for the faint-hearted, there is nothing we as women cannot do, no matter how difficult it may seem.” Buyisile Maureen Mdunge, Umvoti Property Investment & NCT Tree Farmer of the Year 2018
- “Working in an environment which is blessed with producing an abundance of essential products from renewable resources - in a time when everything else is plastic, or causes harm to the planet - is quite inspiring!” Zelda Schwalbach, Sappi Forests, Manager Communications
- “The forestry industry is no longer just about 'managing plantations'. It has become a complex, multi-faceted business that provides many opportunities, where the sky is the limit!” Dr Nicky Jones, Sappi Forests – Tree Biotechnology