Established in 1947 as the Wattle Research Institute, 2017 will see the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research celebrate 70 years of applied forestry research. The ICFR is an autonomous non-profit organization funded primarily by the private forest sector, although with increasing public sector support. The ICFR has a formal association with the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) and is based on the Pietermaritzburg campus of the UKZN.

Plantation forestry in southern Africa in the future will change as it responds to several challenges and opportunities. These include the need to compete in a global market, a changing landowner base with new growers and processors, new end uses/products, development of innovative technology, and responding to environmental constraints including climate change. In addition, external driving forces such as legislation, growing economies and markets, and environmental pressures will provide further impetus to change.

The ICFR is committed to building and maintaining an Institute that is focused on meeting the current and future needs of the forest sector, through building cohesive, relevant and productive research capacity and competence, and conducting research according to high quality scientific and technical standards, while ensuring the delivery of value-adding outcomes. All ICFR research is project-based, and supported through a variety of funding streams. To ensure the ICFR is sustainable into the future, and to build the Institute’s credibility, enhancing our research capacity and research and researcher connection to the mainstream Scientific Community, in South Africa and internationally are prioritized.

Current ICFR members include Forestry South Africa, Komatiland Forests, Evowood, Merensky, Mondi South Africa, NTE, NCT Forestry Co-operative, PG Bison, Sappi Forests, TWK Agri, UCL, York Timbers. The ICFR also receives funding from the public sector; Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Department of Science and Technology (DST).