Redevelopment of Thesen Island, Knysna – From Wood Waste & Compost to Residential Marina


Modern day Thesen Island is a world class Residential Marina located in the Knysna River Estuary.

In 1904 Charles W. Thesen, the son of Norwegian emigrant Arndt L. Thesen bought Paarden Island also referred to as Horse Island. In 1922 he established a timber processing plant on the island which soon became known as Thesen Island. The saw mill and timber business remained in operation until 1980 when Barlows SA purchased the company. Barlows soon realized that the environmental impact of the timber treatment operation was damaging the unique estuary .

In 1991 Dr. Chris Mulder, a leading South African environmental engineer proposed the redevelopment of the island. In December 1998, after eight years of research, planning and environmental impact studies, approval for the development was granted.

The contract was awarded to Power Construction as main contractor and Arcus Gibb as consulting engineers. Before any land reclaiming, construction of canals or civil work could commence, the old saw mill on the island had to be demolished and all remaining waste wood and sawmill waste removed off the Island.

Site Force cc from Cape Town was contracted for this task. A Horizontal Grinder fitted with a 5 inch screen was used. After 12 days of chipping at 8 hours a day, over 5000 cubic meters of contaminated wood waste was chipped and removed off site. This material was loaded into the Bandit Beast using front end loaders, Bell Teleloggers and TLB’s. Most of this material was turned into compost and supplied to farms along the Orange River.