Mass timber construction using advanced engineered wood products is emerging as a sustainable alternative to concrete and steel globally.
Timber has vast benefits as it is a sustainable resource, carbon positive, sustains rural development and is structurally and architecturally attractive. Wood properties are unique and almost impossible to replicate in any other building materials. With the development of engineered timber, wood is an eco-friendly alternative.
York’s vision is to become the leading integrated timber processor in Southern Africa and to pioneer the application of engineered wood products as sustainable building materials in Africa.
Most of South Africa’s timber is used for low-value roof trussing and is, compared to wood from Northern Hemisphere timber producing countries, perceived to be of lower grade due to the faster growth of our pine plantations. However, with new engineered wood technology, high-value wood construction products can be produced from local pine plantations.
South Africa has to develop the appropriate engineering, safety and building codes for its own engineered wood products to stimulate a new construction industry based on this technology. The collaboration with UP is of critical importance to ensure that York’s integrated vision for mass timber construction “from genetics to product” is realised.
South Africa must take an integrative approach to train wood structural and chemical engineers, architects, data scientists, geneticists, breeders and forest scientists who can holistically approach the development of a new, sustainable wood-based bioeconomy.
Most of the potential for expansion of forestry operations for sustainable wood construction lies north of South Africa, so this will have to be a Southern African or continental approach, which aligns well with the mission of Future Africa and UP’s development of multi-disciplinary research in bioeconomy on the Innovation [email protected] campus.