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The Knysna Timber Initiative (KTI) - which owns and manages the Knysna Timber Festival (see below) - has embarked on a campaign to bring more companies into the fold for the ultimate benefit all people and businesses in the timber value chain.

Members of the Initiative met on Wednesday, 18 July, to choose an interim board that will see the organisation through the process of formally registering the organisation as a non-profit company (NPC). Morné Smith of Fechters will serve as chairperson, with Russel Burland (JB Furniture), and Karl van Lith (Timber Village) as directors until the company is registered, at which point an AGM will take place to elect a board in accordance with the company’s constitution.

“Besides the governance issues, the main purpose of the meeting was to start looking seriously at our strategy for KTI,” said Mr. Smith.

He emphasised that the success of the exercise will lie in the participation of members - and that the KTI aims be a broader-reaching organisation.

“It’s not just for the furniture manufacturers,” he said.

“Membership is open to any business or person with an interest in the timber value chain - including forestry companies, nurseries, growers, land owners, harvesters, wholesalers, construction companies, government bodies, and individuals who provide services to businesses in the timber economy.”

“The KTI sees its mission as finding synergies between the various sectors. We want to get all the role players around the table, and we want to facilitate networking to grow the sector by providing a forum for consultation and discussion,” said Mr. Smith

To achieve these synergies, the meeting on the 18th identified three focus areas, which will be addressed by the following sub-committees:

• Skills development - Karl van Lith, John Noble (Kluyts Furniture), Gerald Bouwer (Hands & Hearts)
• Marketing - Morné Smith, Ilse van Schalkwyk (Economic Development Department of the Knysna Municipality), Kim Snook (JB Furniture)
• Raw materials - Dalena Wolmarans (Stander Sawmills), Roy Southey (Sawmilling SA)

The KTI’s proposed memorandum of incorporation mandates the company to identify matters affecting members’ businesses and interests, and to devise appropriate solutions and implement action plans to address their needs. Amongst other things, this includes representing members on public bodies and associations; lobbying at provincial and national level; influencing local authorities by emphasising the benefits of the timber industry to the local economy; encouraging support, cooperation, and clustered activities amongst members; developing and instituting marketing plans for timber-related products; and promoting and providing access to skills training.

Mr. Smith said that the KTI will now embark on a concerted drive to sign members.

“The larger our membership, the more we’ll be able to talk with a united voice when it comes to negotiating with government - which always prefers to speak to representative industry bodies rather than individual companies or people,” he said.

“We expect that members will develop strategies for the KTI that serve their needs - in the same way that our first three sub-committees are doing - because we recognise that the identified challenges aren’t the only challenges affecting the timber economy.”

Mr. Smith said that membership includes listing on the company web site - which also has a section for becoming a member. (Annual membership costs R 1,200.00 - but since we’re almost at the half-way point in the financial year, members who sign now will pay pro-rata amount of R 600,00 until the end of February 2019.)


Mr. Smith said that arrangements for the Knysna Timber Festival (5 to 7 October, 2018) are well underway - with another exciting programme of exhibitors, talks, and product and skills demonstrations.

The Festival will once again 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, so the workshop will focus on training,” said Mr. 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 be open to both members of the tourism economy, and 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.

• Membership information and sign-up:
• To join the KTI’s skills development, marketing, or raw materials discussion groups, please mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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The Knysna Timber Festival is proud to be associated with the following supportive organisations.



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The Knysna Timber Initiative
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Knysna Tourism
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