Forestry’s power couple making a difference
Muedanyi and Nontethelelo ‘Nonthe’ Ramantswana, who met at NMMU’s Saasveld campus where they were both studying forestry and were married in 2015, are making quite an impact in the forestry industry.
Muedanyi has taken over as Forest Engineering lecturer at NMMU from Andrew McEwan. Delegates at forestry conferences and symposiums around the country have been exposed to some of Muedanyi’s flawless presentations, and will appreciate how lucky the new crop of forestry students are to have a lecturer with his ability, knowledge and experience to guide them through their forest engineering courses.
Nonthe is busy with her Btech Forestry degree at NMMU, and is also presenting a course in Veldfire Management Engineering for the Higher Certificate in Veld Fire Management. She is also presenting the Life Skills module of the Supervisor Training course for CMO, and will in future be presenting the silviculture module as well.
They have both excelled academically in their chosen field, and have also done the hard yards gaining experience working on the ground in forestry, Muedanyi with Sappi and Nonthe with Mondi.
But the forestry industry very nearly lost out on Muedanyi’s talents as he had his heart set on a career in agriculture. As a fresh-faced youngster straight out of school in Limpopo, he arrived at the University of Pretoria to find that his application to register for a degree in agricultural management had gone astray.
Desperate to kickstart his career, Muedanyi travelled to NMMU in Port Elizabeth on the last day of registration for the next best thing – forestry – only to find that he was at the wrong campus.
By a stroke of good fortune, registration for forestry was extended for another day, giving Muedanyi enough time to make his way to NMMU’s George campus by bus and taxi, thus registering for the National Diploma in Forestry just in the nick of time.
The rest is history. Muedanyi received a study bursary from Sappi in his third year of studies, sailed through his National Diploma and BTech and then completed a Masters degree – all through NMMU. His MTech thesis was accepted without a single correction, which is quite a feat, and was judged to be the best Masters thesis at the University that year (2012).
He then spent several years working as a management forester for Sappi at Shafton and then Clan, learning the ins and outs of managing harvesting and silviculture contractors in a full-on production environment.
Now he’s back at his alma mater where he will impart his extensive knowledge and experience in various aspects of forestry to the next generation of foresters. He has also registered for a PhD, so before too long you’ll have to address Muedanyi as ‘Doctor’.
Nonthe applied for a study bursary with Mondi while she was attending Protec academy in Pietermaritzburg during her matric year. Protec offers additional education in maths, science, English and life skills to promising learners from underprivileged backgrounds, providing them with a stepping stone from school to a career.
Nonthe started her first year National Diploma in Forestry in 2011. Her practical modules were spent working with Mondi forestry operations in Iswepe and Zululand. After completing her National Diploma she worked for Mondi full-time as a silviculture forester in New Hanover in the KZN midlands, gaining valuable practical experience in forestry operations.