Timber Forestry – The Women Leading The Way In The South African Forestry Sector

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Timber forestry – For many years the Forestry Sector was a male-dominated sector, however, over the last few years more and more inspired and passionate women are taking center stage across the forestry value chain, from entrepreneurship to management to civil culture. Women have now started to come to the fore in the forestry sector, from roles as Machine Operators to Chief Financial Officers to Company CEO.

Forestry is not only about Planting, managing, and caring for timber plantations but also about looking after the landscapes which timber plantations share with other animals and species. Timber also has a great influence in the community as it is used for poles, fencing, landscaping, and other structure foundations.

At Sabie Poles we know, as a timber treatment facility, that quality starts from the seedling. Therefore, we have invested a lot of capital into growing our very own Eucalyptus plantations to ensure the highest quality from start to finish. This ensures full accountability for our timber products. We have stringent criteria in which we plant, harvest, and treat our products to ensure that the end product is always of the highest quality. Sabie Poles is not only about growing and harvesting timber but treating them as well.

South African plantations grow pine and eucalyptus, and they are not durable, therefore they are subject to attack from fungus and termites. Consequently, it is necessary to ‘treat’ or “protect” the timber through a process called wood preserving. We preserve wood through pressure treatment with CCA treatment. There are various classes and each class has a specific application. The purpose of the application will determine the treatment required to ensure maximum performance. 

Timber Forestry

This industry is not for the faint-hearted as it required people with all-around ability and experience who can motivate and manage a team of employees and contractors, maintain good relationships with neighbours and stakeholders and manage forestry operations.

The gender bias has been eliminated, women can now apply or learn for any role in the Forestry Sector. Forest Stewardship Council Africa shared South Africa’s Women in Forestry initiative which highlights the important role women play in the forestry sector. More women seem to become part of all sectors of the forestry industry and according to Makhosazana Mivimbela, Chairlady for ‘She is forestry South Africa’, “We now see women represented in roles across the sector and along its value chain, from machine operators involved in harvesting and silviculture, to researchers, CEO’s and CFO’s…”

Marina Daniel – Owner of Sabie Poles – started Sabie Poles in 1995 with nothing but a passion for the timber industry, 5 employees, and the backing of Lonza (Leader in CCA Treated Timber chemicals). Up until 1995, Daniels was an employee within the industry for years. Seeing a gap in the market for exceptional quality treated timber products, she reinvented herself from employee to entrepreneur.

Marina was asked a few questions regarding Women in Forestry and this was her response:

What triggered your passion for the timber industry?

When we left Zimbabwe, my father was forced to stop farming and he ventured into building and construction. He finally settled on doing thatch roofs. I took great interest in what he was doing and saw how much he struggled to get a reliable pole supplier, so when the opportunity presented itself I decided to open a pole treating business.”

Besides work experience, what other experience and qualifications do you have regarding the timber industry?

“I studied marketing and sales management at the Technicon of Pretoria. Other than that I have taught myself computer skills. There are many qualified and experienced people in the timber industry and I gather my knowledge from reading a lot about the what and how of timber. I guess in that sense I’ve never stopped studying. There is always something new to learn every day.”

Have you ever experienced gender inequality in your lifetime of working in the timber industry?

“I have been very fortunate in the sense that I was never exposed to or suffered gender equality in the timber industry. I guess it’s because I’m headstrong and know what I want, yet respectful to anyone that comes my way. If you respect others they will respect you.”

Saie Poles Marina
Marina Daniel – Owner of Sabie Poles

What advice would you give to women regarding the Timber Forestry Sector?

“The timber industry is filled with ample opportunities. It is hard work, but very rewarding. If you take care of and nurture this valuable resource, it will take care of you and many generations to come. You cannot reap the harvest if you do not plant the seed. So take that step and plant that seed and in many years to come, you will reap the reward.”


H2 CCA Class
  • Internal Applications like structural timber, flooring, panelling and more
H3 CCA Class
  • External Above Ground applications like fencing bearers, steps and cladding.
H4 CCA Class
  • In Ground Contact applications like Fencing poles, playground structures and decking
H5 CCA Class
  • Wet Soils or In-Water applications like retaining walls, jetties and walkways.
  • SABS inspects each individual order.
H6 CCA Class
  • For application in Sea Water like jetties, walkways and retaining walls.
  • SABS inspects each individual order

Gender equality is an essential aspect of human dignity and social justice; providing more opportunities and increased household incomes, which improve nutritional and educational outcomes. 

Many campaigns have been launched to promote modern forestry, where silvicultural and technical advancements have helped break down gender barriers with women. It is important that women are promoted as forestry role models, both to women already in the Sector and to future generations who want to grow their careers in forestry.

Timber Forestry is a career choice that provides opportunities for skilled, semi-skilled, and unskilled personnel. As a woman, taking responsibility to achieve equality by taking on the responsibilities in all sectors, from being a forester to being a CEO in forestry could have a huge impact on future generations.

Many women have already proven that they can make a difference in the Timber Forestry Sector. It is important that their efforts, influence, strength, and the collective potential need to be realized.

Women working in the Timber Forestry Sector already have vast knowledge about this Sector that can be passed on from generation to generation making the possibilities of igniting the passion for women to enter this industry even greater. Women need to have the confidence to know that they can do it too.

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