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NMMU’s School of Natural Resource Management in George commenced the new academic year on a high note with an in-depth industry workshop and advisory committee meeting which drew together the cream of the South African forestry industry and other relevant stakeholders at Saasveld in February.

The workshop, aimed at pro-actively “addressing the academic requirements of the forester in a changing forestry landscape, with specific reference to new land ownership”, was in keeping with the partnership approach adopted by NMMU to ensure that the qualifications offered by the university are aligned to the changing skills needs of this specific sector. 

Recent workshops with industry have indicated that the content of the various programmes are relevant to a large extent. However, it was deemed necessary to ensure that the new skills required of foresters in the context of new land ownership are adequately included in the contents of the relevant diploma, post diploma and industry short courses offered by NMMU.

Land ownership changes affect both the agricultural and forestry sectors, and demands a partnership approach between industry and the new owners. This new model requires of foresters and farm managers to acquire new skills, such as the ability to effectively manage conflict and relationships. 

It was determined that key skills such as negotiation, management of trusts, communication, understanding multiple resource applications, business skills needed to be incorporated into the forestry curriculum.

The workshop was facilitated by Roger Godsmark of Forestry SA, together with Ian Henderson of Masonite, Carl van Loggerenberg of Sappi, Rob Thompson of MCT Forests, Linda Vilakazi of SiyaQhubeka Forests and Viv McMenamin, Director of Mondi who attended per video conference

The outcomes can be summarised as follows:

·The human skills needed would be modified at practical level – from first-year studies through to BTech-level (new Advanced Diploma)

·The structured practical should in future include a three-day course on the lands-claim process

·A new module on extension services will be introduced at BTech (Advanced Diploma) level in order to meet the need for more technical, financial and administrative skills

·As far as the 2nd year practicals are concerned, industry committed to incorporate field days and workshops for students, also at regional level. 

Andrew McEwan, in his capacity as Forestry lecturer at NMMU George and vice chairperson of the SA Institute of Forestry (SAIF) commended industry for also taking ownership for the skills required by industry. “Industry’s initiatives are critical to the successful preparation of students for the world of work, and complement the theoretical base provided by NMMU. We treasure this mutually-beneficial partnership”, he said.

NMMU academics and forestry industry representatives from across the country met at the university’s George Campus at Saasveld recently to workshop the academic requirements of the Forestry programmes offered by NMMU, in the context of the new demands made on the forester given developments relating to land ownership.

Viv McMenamin Director: Mondi joined participated per video-conference.

The rest of the team took a minute or two to saviour the magnificent mountain views at NMMU George. 

They are (standing, from left): Roger Godsmark (FSA), Rob Thompson (MCT), Gerhard Engelbrecht (NMMU lecturer), Ian Henderson (Masonite), Mike Underwood UKZN/MUAA), Prof Jos Louw (Director: School of Natural Resource Management, NMMU Faculty of Science), Andre Boshoff (Sappi), Andrew McEwan (NMMU), Kerry Davies (Mondi), Ronald Heath (DAFF), Roy Southey ( Executive Director: Sawmilling SA), Carl van Loggerenberg (Sappi), Duane Roothman (Sappi), Robin Clark (Touw Meubels), Willie Brink (Cape Pine);

Front, from left: Heine Muller (KLF), Dr Jaap Steenkamp (NMMU), Richard Muller (NMMU), Linda Vilakazi (SQF) and Karel Jacobs (KLF).

Contact information
Ms Alet van Tonder
Manager: Marketing & Corporate Relations
Tel: 27 44 801 5098