GROWTH OPPORTUNITIES The videos showcase all the potential careers found within forestry and related industries
Nonprofit forestry organisation She Is Forestry SA, which promotes and uplifts women across the forest and forest product sector, launched a series of videos at their yearly Women in Forestry webinar on August 3, encouraging girls to pursue careers in the industry.
Its aim is to produce a series of videos showcasing all the potential careers found within forestry and related industries, from growing trees in a nursery to ensuring they reach maturity in a plantation while safeguarding the environment on which the industry relies.
Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa executive director Jane Molony commented: “As our sector looks to build its talent pipeline, initiatives like this one expose youngsters to a world of opportunities using a green, renewable resource – farmed trees – to support the economy, deliver goods to society and build communities.”
Forest Sector Charter Council executive director Makhosazana Mavimbela explained that people still have a “1970s view” of forestry – that it is a male-only career path.
She stated: “We have women working in every single conceivable role within the sector, from operating heavy machinery to conducting [. . .] research”.
She continued, explaining that women occupy positions in human resources, communication, finance and marketing, as well as managing plantations and nurseries, mills and lumber yards.
“Women own forestry businesses, contractor operations and small forestry-related enterprises. In short, there is a wealth of forestry opportunities just waiting to be explored,” Mavimbela noted.
Uplifting Women in Forestry
Each of the videos follows a single woman as she discusses her role and the career path she followed. The women also explain some of the challenges they have faced along the way and how they circumvented them.
“The beauty of the videos is that high school learners watching them will be able to relate to the women they see on the screen. They are women who have come from rural communities and had to work hard and overcame obstacles to get where they are today,” explained Forestry South Africa communication consultant Katy Johnson.
The videos were produced following requests by several principals representing schools that She is Forestry SA supports, in part because they were experiencing high dropout rates among girls.
The principals felt career advice about the potential avenues open to women and positive role models already living these careers might help the girls see the array of potential paths open to them, and help to reduce the number of students dropping out.
As career days at individual schools have an inherently limited reach, it was decided that videos commissioned by the organisation would be hosted on She Is Forestry SA’s YouTube channel, and made publicly available.
This meant that any school, organisation, individual or group could access them and be inspired. Johnson added that this could be an initiative rolled out across other sectors.
“We believe forestry should be a trailblazer for something bigger, a multisector initiative to promote science, technology, engineering and maths subjects to women and girls across the country,” she concluded.