Change the world


The 45th International Forestry Students’ Symposium (IFSS 2017) which will be hosted by the South African chapters of the International Forestry Students’ Associations (IFSA), spearheaded by Nelson Mandela University is set to attract more than 130 students from 56 countries to South Africa between 2 and 17 July. 

The event, which is presented under the auspices of Nelson Mandela University will commence with the Official Opening and Dialogue at the George Campus on Monday, 3 July. The Campus Principal, Prof. Quinton Johnson expressed his deep admiration for the excellence of our very talented Madibaz students who are doing amazing work in organizing the global symposium. He also indicated that the event presents the City and Eden District with a remarkable opportunity to introduce the Southern Cape as a premier destination for educational excellence and a tourism mecca for the world. 

The theme for the symposium is “Forestry in a diverse environment: Siyaphi? (Where to from here?)”  It aims to explore the rapidly changing nature of forestry since socio-economic components are becoming as important as the traditional biophysical components. “Landscapes are transforming and humanity has become a key driver of global change. This is relevant to the youth because forestry can now be explored from a wide array of angles. In the South African context in particular it is anticipated that this important forum will enable the youth to leverage social business models in forestry”, the local organising team explained.

The symposium will consist of lectures, workshops, seminars, educational excursions and dialogues throughout the event which will revolve around the main theme.  Issues that are critical to the forestry industry will be debated and could include sub-themes such as:  Forestry and the inclusion of rural areas; Mechanization within forestry; Land reform and tenure and how this affects the forestry industry; Youth involvement in forestry; Environmental impacts of forestry and possible mitigation measures; and Global warming and forestry. The event presents an excellent opportunity for South African forestry students for exposure to international opinions and thoughts regarding the forest industry, specifically regarding our local industry.  The outcomes of the various dialogues that form part of the programme will be documented and published in appropriate media.

Nelson Mandela University Forestry students had initiated the concept and design of the winning bid to host the event in South Africa during the 2015 IFSS which was held in the Philippines. Other contenders included Australia and Indonesia.  The IFSS 2017 Organising Committee consists of students from the Forestry Associations of the Nelson Mandela University, the University of Venda, Stellenbosch University, Fort Cox and the University of Pretoria.  This will be the first time in the history of IFSA that this global conference (an annual event) will be hosted by a team of collaborating local chapters from one country, hence making it a truly South African symposium.

IFSS is an annual event that is held in conjunction with the General Assembly of IFSA.   South African IFSA members have hosted IFSS every ten years since 1997 with Stellenbosch University hosting the event in 1997 followed by the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in 2007.  In keeping with tradition Nelson Mandela University students consulted their faculty (Science) and potential sponsors regarding the possibility of hosting IFSS in 2017. This consultation was done in 2015 - a year that marked strides in South Africa‘s involvement in international forest processes when the country hosted the prestigious World Forestry Congress.  In addition, Nelson Mandela University had hosted the preceding World Forestry Indaba at the George Campus in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Both these international events had a strong youth and student focus.

IFSS 2017 will provide an opportunity to showcase South African forestry to the world and, furthermore, to explore perspectives on various aspects of Sustainable Forest Management. The symposium connects forestry students worldwide and affords the participants a golden opportunity to learn and acquire knowledge on forestry in the host country. It also offers networking opportunities for the budding professionals and drives global visions for sustainable forest management, given the diversity of attendees from the numerous participating countries.

The programme for the upcoming two-week symposium commences in Cape Town and includes a tour of various provinces, with visits to key forestry areas, stakeholders and sites of cultural significance in the Eastern Cape  (Hogsback, Fort Cox Forestry College); KZN (Cedara Agricultural  College), with visits to industry (Mondi, Sappi). Visits to the Kruger National Park and Cradle of Human Kind are also included. The programme concludes in Pretoria (University of Pretoria) on 16 July, with international delegates scheduled for departure from the Oliver Tambo Airport on 17 July.  

Let the countdown begin! … Excited members of the IFSS Local Organising Committee joined by the George Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson (front centre), Ms Irene Mathabela (DAFF) and Prof Jos Louw (back, left). The group impressed with their “state of readiness” report as the last arrangements are being put in place to host this much anticipated international forestry event, which follows barely two years after Nelson Mandela University had hosted the World Forestry Indaba at the George Campus.

Strong partners … During a recent visit to the George Campus, Deputy Director for Sector Capacity Development at DAFF Head Office in Pretoria, Ms Irene Mathabela (centre) expressed her appreciation and delight at the meticulous approach employed and great strides made by the IFSS local organising team in finalising arrangements for presenting a world-class student forestry event in South Africa. She is flanked by the Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson (right) and Prof Jos Louw (Science Faculty, School of Natural Resource Management), along with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the local organising committee, Ullrich Hechter (left) and Kopano Khwene (right). 

Visit the IFSA website  & IFSS2017 website 

Contact information
Mr Thami Douse