International meeting of forestry students

Avelile Cishe, Regional Representative of the International Forestry Students' Association.

Two forestry students from South Africa recently attended the 51st International Forestry Students' Symposium in Germany. The students, Avelile Cishe from Nelson Mandela University and Siyanda Mbadamana from Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute, represented their respective universities, as well as other forestry institutes in South Africa including Stellenbosch University, University of Venda, University of Pretoria, and University of Mpumalanga.

The Symposium is the biggest annual meeting of the International Forestry Students' Association (IFSA). It is a platform for forestry students from all over the world to come together to learn about the latest trends in forestry, network with their peers and share ideas.

The theme of this year's event was ‘Transforming forestry – getting ahead of current and future challenges’. The students discussed a wide range of topics, including climate change, forest management, and sustainable forest products. They also had the opportunity to visit several forests and forestry research centers in Germany. This gave them a firsthand look at the different ways that forests are managed in Germany.

Forestry students from around the world gathered in Germany.

“The Symposium was a great opportunity and an amazing experience to network with other forestry students and learn about the latest trends in the field. We learned so much about forestry and we met some great people from all over the world,” said Avelile.

Their attendance at the symposium was made possible with funding support from Nelson Mandela University, Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute, and the Germany Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

Avelile and Siyanda said that they will be sharing their learnings and experiences with all the forestry universities in South Africa.

Soil sampling infield.

Report by Avelile Cishe, Regional Representative of the International Forestry Students' Association.

Top NMU forestry & wood tech students applauded

Top achievers in Forestry, Wood Technology and Veldfire Management at Nelson Mandela University’s George campus, and staff members.

A special awards ceremony was held at the Nelson Mandela George campus recently to acknowledge the top achievers in Forestry, Wood Technology and Veldfire Management.

“Today we celebrate your excellence, hard work and perseverance shown during the period of acquiring your qualification, and we encourage you to continue and be responsible ambassadors of our institution and carry the Nelson Mandela University name with pride in the work place and communities you will serve in,” said Forestry Department head Tiaan Pool.

In the Forestry Diploma, Benjamin Ringwood received the award for best student in Forest Engineering, Forest Management and Fire Management modules, whilst Mushaisano Ndou and Sandisiwe Langman received awards for best students in the Silviculture and Human Resource Management modules respectively.

In the Wood Technology Diploma, Mponeng Pina received an award for the best student in Timber Seasoning and Iviwe Dangazela for Timber Processing.

In the Higher Certificate in Veld Fire Management, Hlobisile Madlala and Amanda Rodo received awards for the best students.

The Nelson Mandela Forestry Association committee which served in 2022 was also recognised for their excellence in leadership. The committee members were Avelile Cishe, Lelonathemba Ndaleni, Ronewa Sathuma and Minenhle Machi.

NMU students representing Africa at international conference

(Left to right): Ronewa Sathuma and Avelile Cishe (NMU), and Irene Mathabela (DFFE Representative) at the International Forestry Students’ Symposium in Chile.

Two Forestry and Wood Technology students from Nelson Mandela University (George Campus) recently attended the 50th International Forestry Student's Symposium in Chile. This is one of the world's most prestigious forestry student events. The main aim of the event was to learn about forestry and the management of natural resources of Chile, with specific focus on the sustainability of the forest sector. Furthermore, the event was aimed at networking and exchanging ideas among different delegates from all over the world.

Delegates from over 30 countries including Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Estonia, United Kingdom, Canada, Finland and Slovakia attended the event. NMU forestry students Avelile Cishe and Ronewa Sathuma represented South African and African students at the conference. This was made possible by funding assistance from the Nelson Mandela University, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental (DFFE), South African Forestry Contractors Association (SAFCA), Hans Merensky, and Forestry South Africa (FSA).

Some of the topics that were discussed in the congress included the future of forestry in the world, climate adaptation strategies, forest certification systems, wood science and wood products in support of the green economy, climate-smart forest technologies, forest trade and governance, water quality, and higher education policy and development. These topics are of significant value to the South African forestry industry.

"The South African forestry industry plays a positive role in the climate debate and other global environmental concerns like that of water quality and soil degradation," said Avelile, President of the NMU Forestry Students Association, who gave a presentation at the conference about the role of forestry in solving major environmental threats.

Participating in a tree planting event at the IFSA symposium.
IFSA Symposium delegates got together for a group photo.
Avelile Cishe with the full Symposium programme.

NMU’s top students in Forestry, Wood Technology & Veld Fire Management

A special awards ceremony was held on April 7 at the Nelson Mandela University George campus to recognise the top student achievers in Forestry, Wood Technology and Veldfire Management.

“You have shown excellence in your academic studies during a difficult time of the COVID pandemic,” said Forestry programme coordinator Dr Ramantswana in his address to the students at the awards ceremony. “We encourage you to continue on this trajectory in the workplace and other spheres of society.”

Three forestry diploma students were recipients of the special awards: Sanele Xulu received the award for best student in Forest Engineering, Silviculture and Human Resources modules, whilst Buseka Bhebhi received the award for Forest Management and Lelonathemba Ndaleni received the award for Veld Fire Management. Top students in the Wood Technology Diploma programme were Zizipho Pikashe who received an award for the best student in Timber Seasoning and Likho Ndevu was the top student in Timber Processing. In the Higher Certificate in Veld Fire Management, Luphumlo Tomana (full-time programme) and Renier Groenewald (part-time programme) received top student awards.

Masters student graduates cum laude
Phozisa Dlokweni (aka ‘Phozy’), from Ngceleni village in the Eastern Cape, graduated with an MSc Forestry (cum laude) at the recent NMU George Campus graduation ceremony.

Phozy (26) completed her MSc in record time and attributed her success to the assistance she received from her supervisors, Muedanyi Ramantswana, Raffaele Spinelli and Andrew McEwan.

Phozy said her passion for forestry comes from her father, a forestry contractor, and her uncle who is a forester. She is currently an intern at the University of Pretoria in the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI), employed as a field extension officer.

After matriculating at Maclear High School, Phozy enrolled for the extended Forestry Diploma programme at the George Campus. The following year she bagged several distinctions in the mainstream Forestry Diploma programme after which she excelled in her BTech in Forestry, with core modules in Forest Engineering, Silviculture and Veld Fire Management.

In 2020, Phozy enrolled for an MSc in Forestry. Her research thesis focused on assessing the productivity and volume recovery of mechanised harvesting in a pine fire salvaging operation in the Eastern Cape. She plans to start her PhD in forestry soon.

“My supervisor, Dr Muedanyi Ramantswana, has been my role model and encouraged me to work hard and be dedicated,” said Phozy. “The experience gained at the University during my internship and research at MTO Cape, has augmented my academic journey as a life changing experience that I will forever cherish,” she says.

Phozy also enjoys reading, outdoor adventure, volunteering in community upliftment projects, travelling and is a true sports fanatic.