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The Forestry INDABA hosted as a partnership between Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (George Campus) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) concluded on a high note with an inspiring closing address by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, General Bheki Cele.

He indicated that much was learnt from the contributions of all who participated in the INDABA – held in preparation of the XIV World Forestry Congress (WFC) which is taking place at the International Convention Centre, Durban (7-11 September, 2015).  He also emphasised that a mental shift was required to ensure that Forestry is acknowledged for its career potential, and for its potential to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic growth in South Africa.  

General Cele appealed for a developmental approach to be embraced.  He emphasised the concept of Agro Forestry, indicating that agriculture and forestry can co-exist and contribute to development, but that an innovative approach was required to ensure synergy.  He posed a challenge to the universities and their masters and doctoral students to find solutions to these issues.

During his address to delegates on the previous day of the INDABA, General Cele made an impassioned appeal for everyone to recognize the critical importance of forestry in the context of the negatives effects of climate change. “Forests are the lungs of the earth and if we continue to abuse our planet, nature will punish us”, he said. He underscored the vital importance of developing our forest resources, if we are to ensure sustainable development for our future generations.  

General Cele put his words into action by planting an indigenous tree in the Eco Corridor at the NMMU George Campus, after taking a forest walk along the famous “Lovers Lane” on campus where PhD student in Forestry, Tatenda Mapeto, shared her knowledge of the trees and the forest eco system with the delegation.  General Cele also visited the Agricultural Research Site during this campus tour, where postgraduate students and academics briefed him on the interesting research trials being done at the site.  An MoU between NMMU and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture was also signed at the site during the INDABA.

The General also took a special interest in the Youth Session (Café Dialogue) where he took to the podium to encourage the students and young people present to play their part in finding innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of the forest industry.

In welcoming delegates to the INDABA during the Opening Plenary, NMMU George Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson, had reiterated that the INDABA represented an inclusive process to ensure that all stakeholders in the forest industry have an opportunity to voice their opinions and to contribute to finding solutions that should benefit all.   Commenting on the outcome of the INDABA, Prof Johnson confirmed the sentiment of DAFF Deputy Minister General Bheki Cele that it was a resounding success.  “NMMU and DAFF who co-hosted the event worked together excellently to ensure that delegates had a world class experience here at our campus in the forest, arguably the most appropriate venue to host an INDABA of this nature. I believe that as an inclusive process the INDABA served its purpose of unpacking the core themes that will be deliberated during the upcoming World Forestry Congress in Durban during September 2015” he said.

NMMU George Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson, NMMU doctoral student in forestry, Ms Tatenda Mapeto, who will also be a presenter at the World Forestry Congress; Prof Jos Louw of the NMMU Science Faculty (School of Natural Resource Management), with General Bheki Cele, Deputy Minister of DAFF at the closing of the three-day Forestry Indaba hosted at the NMMU George Campus.

Further Background to the Forestry INDABA

A cross section of 200 South Africans involved in forests and forestry, as well as Forestry Students from NMMU and other universities gathered at the university’s George campus for the three day, 2015 Forestry INDABA, themed, Forestry and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future.

This gathering of academics, students, private sector and industry, government and communities living in forest and forestry areas, represents South Africa’s preparations to engage in the agenda of the XIV World Forestry Congress. For this reason the themes discussed at the event mirrored the six themes of the WFC, along with two additional themes that looked at Transformation in South African Forestry; and a Youth Perspective which looked at the Role of Youth in Forestry Development.  The latter was achieved through an innovative methodology – a Café Dialogue – which ensured that all the young people who attended this particular session were empowered to make their inputs heard.

The Associate Secretary General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation based in Rome, Tiina Vahanen, expressed her great delight at the World Forestry Congress INDABA at the NMMU George Campus.

The Director General of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Prof Edith Vries also delivered an impassioned analysis of the importance of this congress to our future sustainable development.  She delivered the keynote address on Day 1 of the INDABA and also officially opened the EXPO which formed part of this exciting three-day event.

Secretary General of the XIV WFC, Mr Trevor Abrahams provided an overview of South Africa’s preparations, with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to host the first World Forestry Congress to be held in Africa since its inception in 1926.

The conclusions of the 2015 Forestry INDABA will inform the participation of many South African delegates in the XIV WFC. It is expected that some 5,000 delegates, from all over the world, will converge on the Durban ICC from 7-11 September 2015.

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