OverviewWoodlandsCommercial PlantationsNatural ForestsUrban ForestsForestry Maps

Forests include plantations, natural/indigenous forests and woodlands/savannas. Forestry includes all activities linked to these forests and woodlands.

Forestry refers not only to the use and management of forests but also includes the further processing of wood products into pulp for the paper and packaging industries, sawn timber, furniture, shelving, flooring etc. In addition, forestry includes the use, management and processing of non-timber forest products, a vast category involving fruits, plants, medicinal herbs and animals found in forests and woodlands. Forestry also means the use of forest woods for fuel and for the manufacturing of charcoal; the production of important construction materials, including wooden beams, poles and thatching; and the provision of grass for grazing for domestic and wild animals.

Forests and woodlands are crucial to the protection and conservation of the soil, and play a vital part in water cycling. They also help moderate water flows and reduce sedimentation in streams and reservoirs. The nation’s forests and woodlands contribute significantly to South Africa ’s remarkable range of fauna and flora, much of it unique. Many national parks and eco-tourism ventures use forests and woodlands. The Kruger National Park , for example, is a woodland area.

   The potential area covered by woodlands is estimated at 39-42 million ha depending on the classification system used.
Forest type

Area (hectares)

%land area of SA

Indigenous/Natural Forests

500 000 ha



40 million ha



1,3 million ha


Source: Mucina and Rutherford, 2006; DAFF Statistics, 2010
KwaZulu-Natal Mistbelt Forest - Ngome
Source: DWAF
Southern Cape Afrotemperate forest - Knysna
Source: DWAF
Related References
  National Forests Act, 84 of 1998
  National Forest and Fire Laws Amendment Act, 12 of 2001
Contact Details

Deputy Director: Forestry Information Services
Tom Vorster
Tel: (012) 336 8983