Knysna Timber Festival celebrates wood and heritage
Thursday, 01 October 2015, 05:40
The town of Knysna owes much of its existence to the Knysna Forest and the industry it motivated.
KNYSNA NEWS - The upcoming Knysna Timber Festival, October 8 to 10, promises to live up to the organisers' prediction of being bigger and better than previous Knysna timber and wood festivals.
“This year, there will be more outdoor exhibits than ever,” said Jock McConnachie. “Stihl, Woodmizer will be bringing their massive rig, Makita is brining technology and impressive machinery to the festival grounds.”
Several speakers will share their wealth of timber-related knowledge with festival-goers throughout the three days.
Theo Stehle will talk about the history of the indigenous timber industry in the Southern Cape. Margaret Parkes, whose family’s history in Knysna dates back to the 1890s, will be taking festival-goers on a journey of those years gone by.
This year’s festival is not just a celebration of all things timber and wood-related, but will also serve as a reminder of Knysna’s rich timber history.
“Knysna & Partners will be using this opportunity to awaken the interest in the Knysna Timber Route, a fascinating route put together by one of Knysna’s favourite historians, Margaret Parkes and her sons, George and Jim,” said Knysna & Partners CEO, Greg Vogt.
The timber route literally walks locals and visitors through the era before Knysna became the town it is today.
This route reminds all why the Knysna Forest is world-renowned for its beauty. Novelist Dalene Matthee was so enthralled by the forest that it inspired her to pen several novels set under the magnificent canopy of the forest's trees.
Without the Knysna Forest’s subtropical moist broadleaf trees that cover approximately 300 000 hectares, the town may never have flourished to what it is today.
According to Margaret Parkes, the rich timber source in the area was first noticed when the growing Dutch East India Company settlement in the Cape gradually used up the available timber in nearby regions.
Timber resources were seriously diminished as the local forests were reduced to provide heat, construction materials, wagon and boat-building materials. In search of new wood sources, Governor Joachim Van Plettenberg travelled Eastwards in 1778. He and his entourage established a woodcutter’s post and timber shed in Plettenberg Bay before shipping the wood to Cape Town. The first cargo left on the Meermin under the command of Francois Duminy in 1788.
Knysna was declared a port of entry for shipping in 1818 when the naval commissioner, Sir Jahleel Brenton of the Royal Navy with the support of George Rex, British settler, timber merchant and farmer in Knysna, realised that the timber from the Knysna Forest could be bought directly.
In 1974 the minister of Forestry proclaimed the Knysna Forest as protected under the Forest Act (Act No .72 of 1968). The implication of this Act is that no tree can be harvested without a harvest permit from the Department of Forestry.
The Department of Forestry employ forest scientists to inspect and identify trees to be removed, topped or felled. Top quality trees are cut and lesser quality trees are left in the forest.
Tree harvest selection criteria has to be strictly adhered to and trees are specifically identified for topping or felling based on various observations such as crown die-back, loss of the main shoot, basal rot or stem rot and natural factors such as windfall.
Geo Parkes & Sons is proud to be part of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organisation established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests.
Natural forests throughout the world are threatened by global demand for forest products, which will not only continue, but also accelerate. Much of the world’s remaining natural forests still suffer from illegal exploitation, poor management and conversion to other land uses, commonly resulting in severe degradation or complete destruction. It was these very concerns that led to the establishment of FSC in 1993.
Margaret Parkes talk during the Knysna Timber Festival will transport listener to yesteryear when timber was manually harvested. She will be concentrating on Knysna’s historical boat-building industry.
Knysna Timber Route brochures will be available at the festival grounds as well at the Knysna & Partners offices in Main Road, Knysna.
“This year’s festival has a diverse programme, from children’s theatre, DIY displays, a variety of speakers, beer and wine-tasting and so much more. We, the organising committee, are extremely excited and proud of what this year’s festival has to offer and can’t wait to welcome each and every person through our gates,” concluded Jock McConnachie.
Vogt added: “In our area, wood is in our nature, and this festival will serve as an important reminder of why Knysna has become the town it is today. We at Knysna & Partners are excited to remind the world about our rich timber heritage.”