The influence of tourism on the woodcarving trade around Cape Town and implications for forest resources in southern Africa
Woodcarving is an important informal sector industry that is heavily dependent on tourism and yet sustains the livelihoods of many migrant communities in South Africa. In the Cape Town area, the trade appears to be dominated by sellers from neighbouring countries, including Zimbabwe, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most traded wood species are Dalbergia melanoxylon (African ebony), Brachylaena huillensis (silver oak or muhuhu) and Afzelia quanzensis (pod mahogany). This study found that the average gross income from the trade was R6450 and R2692 per month in the tourism peak and off seasons, respectively. However, while the woodcarving industry provides an important source of informal employment, it has contributed to the scarcity of highly prized hardwood species, especially in impoverished, underdeveloped areas.