The amended Forestry Sector BEE Code (“Amended Forestry Code”) has been gazetted and is in force without a transition period. This means that all enterprises in this sector will immediately upon their next BEE rating be required to meet the requirements of the Amended Forestry Code. Certificates issued under the old Forestry Sector Code will still be valid until their expiry 12 months after their issue date.
The Amended Forestry Code applies to all enterprises involved in commercial forestry and first level processing of wood products, and covers sub-sectors such as growers, forestry contractors, sawmilling, timber board and paper producers, pole treatment plants, charcoal producers, and non-timber enterprises such as honey, medical plant producers and forestry tourism enterprises.
The Amended Forestry Code prioritises the empowerment of designated groups, such as broad-based schemes, employment share ownership plans and communities, under the ownership element. This is evidenced by the higher ownership targets for designated groups (7.5%) from the 3% under the Generic BEE Codes of Good Practice. The Amended Forestry Code is targeted towards rural development as generally most enterprises in this sector tend to be situated in rural and under-developed areas.
The Amended Forestry Code also provides for an increase in the allocation of points for enterprise development emphasizing the focus on the development and support of black-owned Exempted Micro Enterprises (EMEs) and Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSEs) in this sector. Interposed throughout the Amended Forestry Code are further elements aimed at promoting these objectives, such as the provision for recognition of unincorporated joint ventures, linkages between enterprise and supplier development and a focus on the growth of black women-owned enterprises.
If you review the objectives of the Amended Forestry Code it would appear that a small black-owned business such as yours that works in this sector, is ideally positioned to capitalize from the increased focus on enterprise and rural development. I would advise engaging a BEE specialist to help you understand the opportunities on offer and how to position your business to make best use of the opportunities that could flow to businesses in this sector.