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Forestry plays an important role in the economy of
KwaZulu-Natal and large plantations are found in the northern part of the Province. The economic benefits which forestry brings to this country are clear. Forestry is a rural activity and many of the poorest people live in these areas. Government recognises forestry as one of the development vehicles. The future growth of the industry lies with small-scale growers in mostly rural communities. It ranks amongst South Africa's foremost export industries, contributing no less than R5 billion every year to the country's outward trade. It also contributes 2% to the total Gross Domestic Product. The three largest forest owners in South Africa can be found in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the Midlands, plantations cover large areas, providing raw materials for sawmills and paper production, hard and soft board, and rayon pulp mills. A tanning agent, of which South Africa is one of the largest world producers, is made from the wattle bark.

Wood Products

The Province is at the forefront of the country's manufacturing capability in areas such as sawn timber, particleboard, furniture, kitchen cupboards and manufactured wood products for the building industry, such as paneled doors and windows. Exports from the Wood Products sector are growing rapidly.

Paper and Pulp:

Each of South Africa's two large international paper manufacturers, Mondi and Sappi, has several plants located in the province. Both coated and uncoated papers are manufactured in the province, pulp is also a major export commodity. Downstream, the packaging, printing and publishing sectors are well developed with good growth potential.