Water Affairs and Forestry Minister Buyelwa Sonjica says government needs to ensure that forestry contributed to strengthening the economy among rural communities.
She said it was important that her department focused on strengthening the forestry industry because of its importance in creating employment, especially in the rural areas. The Minister said the industry contributed about two percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ms Sonjica was launching the National Arbor Week, which is celebrated from 1-7 September each year. This year the week is celebrated under the theme "Trees are our heritage".
The Minister pointed out that the ownership of the country's forests was still in the hands of "the few white individuals".
Responding to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Act that guides transformation in trade and industry, the department is in the process of drafting a BEE Charter for the forestry industry.
In this regard, government hoped that the majority of the beneficiaries would come from the rural communities.
In addition, Minister Sonjica said the country was still faced with a challenge of greening communities, particularly the townships.
"If you fly over most cities in South Africa, one can easily see the legacy of apartheid - the glaring spatial divide based on racial separation that existed before 1994.
The urban sector has always been divided between the townships and the suburbs, the former look dusty and unhealthy while the latter look healthier because of the green environment.