South Africa is faced with persistently high levels of poverty and unemployment. Forestry being a rurally based activity is ideally placed to contribute towards wealth generation and job creation in neighbouring communities. Commercial timber growing is highly regulated for environment and water conservation reasons. The forest estate currently covers 1 265 811 hectares of highly productive exotic plantations. The resource is currently being underutilized with a reported annual harvest of 18.5 million m3 in 2012/13 compared to a sustainable annual yield of 26 .4 million m3. Pulp, paper and board manufacture dominate the industry, accounting for 70% of the roundwood intake in 2012/13. This sector however is currently only operating at 81% capacity. The forest products industry is export based and in nominal terms earned the country US$ 1.67 billion. Imports amounted to US$ 1.24 billion resulting in a positive balance of payments of US$ 0.43 billion. The Forestry Sector Charter initiative undertaken in terms of the government’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation has been negotiated and implemented with the objective of bringing about greater participation of black people, and particularly women, in the forestry value chain. The result of this initiative is that opportunities are being created for the rural poor who border on forest plantation estates. The development is discussed and a model that is evolving is presented. An additional 140 000 hectares of land has been identified for further new afforestation. This land is communally owned and both licencing and community involvement is required in order for this afforestation to take place. A successful project in southern KwaZulu-Natal serves as a model for such an undertaking. However, further expansion of the area requires that a co-ordinated effort be made by companies, government, non-government organisations, rivals, and communities in order to capture the economic benefits on offer. Individual private timber growers in South Africa are well organised and successfully market their timber co-operatively. This co-operative model and its achievements are well documented. The initiative affords members the ability to achieve economies of scale and access to down-stream processing. A similar arrangement is evolving in the non-timber forest products sector where a micro-franchising model is discussed, and a broader application proposed. Processor growers keen to secure further raw material are entering into out-growers’ agreements with small timber growers. This relationship is regulated in terms of a code of conduct negotiated and agreed within the Forestry Sector Charter.