Africa Biomass Company (ABC) has been a pioneer in the development of biomass processing such as wood chips, biofuel, and mulch in both the agriculture and forestry industries in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa over the past two decades.
In 2004 Willem van der Merwe, founder, and CEO of Africa Biomass Company, bought a small, specialised tree felling company and used wood chippers to enhance productivity. Over time these services and equipment were used in agriculture, river rehabilitation projects, and lately also forestry, with a focus on biomass to energy and under canopy mulching.
ABC has grown to meet increasing demand for these services and now has nine production teams using the latest biomass processing equipment and techniques to process plantation residue, alien invasive trees, and encroacher bushes.
ABC specialises in providing contracting services in the following core operations: -
Land Preparation Serrat mulchers have demonstrated their effectiveness as a comprehensive solution for land preparation before replanting. Plantation managers see this as the future of single-step preparation, replacing the previously used herbicides, burning, and manual labour, which were both labour-intensive and had a detrimental impact on the soil conditions.
Under Canopy Mulching and Fire Management In South Africa, the practice of under canopy mulching is gaining traction as part of an integrated fire management strategy to reduce fuel loads, such as prunings. ABC is excited about the results obtained through multiple trials in various regions using the rugged Serrat mulchers to process fuel load in an efficient, cost-effective, and ecologically beneficial way to the environment. The Serrat forestry mulchers, available as part of ABC’s contracting fleet or to purchase, come in several widths and can process several diameters of material according to the client’s need.
Biomass to Energy Correctly sourced biomass is environmentally friendly, renewable, abundantly available, and cost-effective fuel that can be combusted as a source of fuel to generate heat for a variety of applications. Typical sustainable sources of biomass are offcuts from sustainably managed commercial plantations, recycled orchard and vineyard residues, and most importantly invasive alien vegetation that is cleared as part of river rehabilitation projects. Harvesting unwanted alien vegetation increases water runoff, decreases the risk of bush fires, and contributes to the restoration of natural vegetation.
ABC is an authorised dealer for Bandit wood chippers, Serrat mulchers, Badger biomass equipment and Dezzi equipment. They are based in Worcester in the Western Cape and have branches in George (W. Cape), Kirkwood (Eastern Cape), Upington (Northern Cape), Parys (Free State), Tzaneen (Limpopo) and Nelspruit (Mpumalanga).
ABC places a high value on customer well-being and after-sales support, and each customer's operations are treated as unique, with custom-tailored solutions.
ABC are Gold Sponsors at this year’s Focus on Forestry Conference taking place at Karkloof in the KZN midlands from 7-9 November, and conference delegates are invited to visit their stand. ABC CEO Willem van der Merwe will address the following topic on Wednesday, 8th November at 11:55: “The latest biomass processing equipment and techniques available to process plantation residue, alien invasive trees, and encroacher bush.”
For a full list of new and used equipment for sale, send an email to: email@example.com
New look Sawmilling SA
To celebrate the International Day of Forests on March 21, Sawmilling South Africa (SSA) has come up with a new logo and visual identity that focuses on the role that responsibly sourced and processed wood can play in providing solutions fit for a future sustainable world.
"Getting people to recognise the value of timber in the built environment will be set in motion by our modernised visual identity and corporate logo, and will be directed by our new positioning statement: 'We saw the future'," explains Roy Southey, SSA’s executive director.
"We saw the future - demonstrates that we use renewable and responsibly sourced timber to saw products that are aimed at the future of sustainable, low-carbon design, architecture and construction. It fundamentally embodies our vision for the timber industry in South Africa and globally," says Southey.
"There is a unique climate case for wood as it is deemed as the only structural material that can naturally and significantly decarbonise our planet, both through the growing of trees (which sequester carbon dioxide and release oxygen) and by harvesting them at the right time, which locks up the carbon in sustainable quantities for many years to come. In fact, trees absorb about two tonnes of carbon dioxide to create one tonne of their own (dry) mass[i]," he points out.
SSA is an industry association that represents around 50 sawmilling companies, collectively employing approximately 12,000 people, predominantly in the rural areas of South Africa.
Sawmills transform roundwood – in other words, logs – into a variety of sawn timber products, including structural lumber for the building and construction industry and industrial lumber for the furniture, joinery and packaging sectors.
Globally, urban populations are growing, requiring cities to become more dense, often by building upwards. At the same time, we are facing a climate crisis. The global built environment is currently responsible for approximately 40% of global energy related CO2 emissions[ii], with emissions stemming from two main sources: the energy consumed within buildings for heating, cooling and power (operational emissions) and the emissions associated with the extraction, processing and manufacture of building materials like concrete, bricks and steel (embodied emissions).
Harvested wood products, which store carbon, can be a substitute for carbon intensive materials such as steel and concrete in construction. However, in South Africa where mass timber buildings are not commonplace, people tend to think only of log cabins, or conventional roof trusses. Recent technologies, however, are harnessing the natural strength of timber and improving it, engineering a new range of timber that can be used for mass timber buildings and high-rise construction.
"South Africa is ripe for scaling up the use of timber in construction, however many people perceive wood as rudimentary or weak. But for engineering professionals and architects of mass timber structures, there is significant opportunity for innovation, localisation and employment creation," says Southey.
Cape Town-based agency Creative Caterpillar was given the task to visually reflect SSA's renewed focus and vision, resulting in the association's brand transformation. "The team adopted a contemporary, future-minded approach when re-imagining the SSA logo, which made it possible to step away from our previous, more literal logo and embrace a more inclusive and relatable design for all stakeholders in the industry," says Southey.
The evolution of the corporate logo with its refreshed colour palette of orange (representing creativity and innovation) and olive green (representing nature and growth) has given the sector a renewed focus on the role that wood can play in building a sustainable future.
Conservation and forestry
The NCT Tree Farmer of the Year is awarded annually to tree farming operations that display excellence in sustainable plantation management. Candidates for the award are assessed against broad sustainability principles.
The 2021 winners in the Commercial Tree Farmer category are Brendon Raw and his wife Ninette, who manage their forestry business from a smallholding in the Karkloof in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. They have built up an integrated timber business including 1 000 ha of plantations and a sawmill.
Brendon and Ninette are also enthusiastic conservationists, and have taken on the role of protecting highly sensitive grasslands and wetlands at the headwaters of a major catchment that feeds into the Umgeni River which serves agriculture, industry and rural and urban settlements all the way from the Karkloof to the coast. These grasslands and wetlands are teeming with wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. The conservation areas have been successfully integrated into their highly productive plantation operation which produces sawlogs for their own sawmill and other markets.
NCT Forestry is a leading marketing co-operative catering for the needs of independent timber growers in South Africa. It has 1 800 shareholders/members who collectively own 300 000 ha of timber, which constitutes 21% of afforested land in SA.