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Research & Development

PAMSA seeks to promote the bioeconomy through green innovation, development and research throughout the forest sector value chain, whether it is climate positive forestry, cleaner production or making oils and chemicals out of lignin. It oversees research and innovation-related projects on behalf of its members, in partnership with a number of South African universities and institutions.

Paper itself is a biomaterial and one of the oldest technologies in the world. From chipping wood into small pieces, to cooking them to produce a soup-like slurry and then drying the fibres into sheets, papermaking is a complex and fascinating process. Companies are continually looking at every aspect of their operations to reduce water use, energy consumption and air emissions.


With 850 million trees growing on more than 676 000 hectares reserved for pulp and papermaking in South Africa, there is significant potential in terms of carbon sequestration, product substitution and carbon storage in harvested wood products (HWPs).

A report by Dalberg – The growing role of forest products in climate change mitigation –  launched at COP27 in Egypt in 2022, highlights the 3S Framework of Forests and HWPs as a key driver for a climate-resilient planet and green economic growth: carbon sequestration by trees in managed forests, carbon storage in HWPs and substitution by timber and wood fibre-based products.


Through photosynthesis, trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (sequestration) and convert it into food for growth. They keep the carbon stored in their fibres and give us back the oxygen.

Only a small percentage of mature Eucalyptus and pine trees are harvested annually with new trees planted in their place, ensuring a sustainable supply of wood and increased carbon sequestration as younger trees take up carbon dioxide quicker than their older counterpart


Substitution occurs when wood-based products replace fossil fuel based materials. To support the goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C, countries need to use more timber in construction, more wood-based fibre in packaging, and more sustainably sourced fibres in a vast range of products, from biofuels to clothing to car parts and even pharmaceuticals.

By re-engineering processes, the South African forest product sector can extract the full benefit of the tree and other by-products from pulp and papermaking, ensuring that little goes to waste.

Beyond the obvious items such as printing paper, cardboard boxes, and toilet paper, wood from farmed trees can provide much more.

Wood – when broken down into its components of cellulose, hemi-cellulose and lignin – can be used to produce a range of substances that go into the manufacture of common household and industrial products and innovative substitutes for fossil-fuel based products.

Read more about wood-based products here


Carbon storage is maintained when trees are harvested, and wood products become a pool of stored carbon.

With about half of the dry weight of timber as carbon, the carbon storage potential in long-life harvest wood products and reductions in emissions from substitution of fossil fuel based materials is significant.

Research Programmes and Partnerships


Masters in Chemical Engineering Bursary Programme

The Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMSA) is calling for applications from BEng/BSc in chemical engineering final year students and graduates for its Master in Chemical Engineering bursary and research programme.

Find out more here

The Blue Sky Young Researchers Innovation Award – a biennial competition for students and young researchers.

Blue Sky Awards

The Blue Sky Young Researchers Innovation Award – a biennial competition for students and young researchers –  is sponsored at a global level by the International Council of Forest and Paper Associations (ICFPA) and locally in South Africa by PAMSA. The awards aim to reward pioneering work such as transforming wood-based raw materials into novel products, improving forestry techniques or pulping processes, or contributing to the forest bio-economy.

Read More


Industry partnership with Department of Science and Innovation

Fibre Circle, the producer responsibility organisation for the South African paper and paper packaging sector, has partnered with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) through the Sector Innovation Fund to promote research, development and innovation.

Read more about this initiative


TAPPSA Journal Archive

The Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry of South Africa (TAPPSA) closed its doors and the TAPPSA Journal at the end of 2018. We have created an archive of past issues and articles.