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Nelson Mandela University’s, Forestry Department in the Faculty of Science on the University’s George Campus recently hosted an online webinar “Towards modernised silviculture”.

The webinar, facilitated by Dr Muedanyi Ramantswana, was hosted on 21 October 2020, using the Microsoft Teams platform. Forming part of the panel were industry experts who presented insightful information on the topic to over 350 attendees - engaging on the topic by submitting questions.

The silviculture webinar was inspired by the completion of Dr Ramantswana’s doctoral thesis, which focused on the developments and adoption of silviculture technologies in South Africa and globally. During the tenure of the project completion, an identified gap necessitated that a platform to engage further on the topic be utilised, birthing the idea of the webinar. Further to that, the inspiration to host the webinar was in response to the accelerated rate of technology change in silviculture and the lack of information and knowledge sharing. The webinar was used as a platform for industry experts to probe and share pertinent information related to silviculture modernisation.

The objective was to create an environment where various stakeholders such as students, foresters, machine manufacturers, silviculture specialists and consultants from various areas across the world could learn from each other, exchange information and build relationships and connections.

The panel experts came from different organisations with the majority being from South Africa, and comprised of representation from private forestry companies, large growers, contractors, machine manufacturers and universities. The main guest speaker was Professor Saulo Guerra from the UNESP university in Brazil (Prof Saulo also represents IPEF (Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Florestais) and also formed part of the panel). Other panel members were:

  • Shaun Biggs from Ellepot presented about paper based pots as a solution for improved mechanised planting.
  • Jacob Zimbodza from Siyanqoba Forestry Solutions and Nelson Mandela University reported results from his Master research about the effect of manual, motor manual and mechanised pit preparation techniques on tree growth response and operational productivity.
  • Helgaard Steenkamp from Novelquip forestry highlighed the process of bringing precision to mechanised planting operations.
  • Sean McKenzie from Silvix Forestry focused on various ways in which modernised silviculture can be achieved through simple and adaptable tools.
  • Nick Gwenda from Thuthugani Contractors) outlined the keys to successfully transition from manual to modernised silviculture – a contractor’s perspective.
  • Dean da Costa (Mondi)  described the challenges and solutions to modernising silviculture at a large scale.
  • Prof Saulo Guerra (UNESP and IPEF) gave an overview of the status of silviculture modernisation in Brazil by describing the various technologies used in Brazil and the future research focus areas.

When asked if there were any plans for further engagements of this kind in the pipeline, an elated Dr Ramantswana responded “Technology is moving at a rapid pace and we cannot afford to remain uninformed.  As Nelson Mandela University, we want to be at the cutting edge of new advancements in this field of silviculture modernisation in forestry. We plan to have this event annually as it was well received by both local and global attendees. The feedback from the attendees indicated that the content presented at the webinar was important and relevant for the industry”.

In his closing remarks, Dr Ramantswana said that the webinar was an excellent opportunity to showcase Nelson Mandela University and the Forestry Department at both a local and international level.

Watch the recorded webinar

All the presentations are available for downloading from this page.

Contact information
Dr Muedanyi Ramantswana
Senior Lecturer and Forestry Programme Coordinator
Tel: 044 801 5022

Files you can download