Preparing for the next mega fire

‘Preparing for the next Mega Fire’ is the theme of the 13th Fire Management Symposium, scheduled to be held at the Nelson Mandela University’s (NMU) George Campus from 23 to 25 November.

Effective wildfire management is impeded by a lack of integration between research results, technological development, and efforts by fire managers. In the end all strive to prevent, suppress and protect the environment, human wellbeing, and assets against wildfire.

This event aims to integrate the efforts of natural resource managers, engineers, and scientists through an integrated approach.

The Symposium will bring together fire managers and authorities from different disciplines and land uses including nature conservation, agriculture, disaster management, forestry and local authorities, for a range of informative presentations and exciting networking opportunities.

The choice of George as a venue to host the Symposium is appropriate as it is situated in the scenic southern Cape which experienced one of the worst fires in the history of South Africa on 7 June 2017. Exactly one year later another mega fire swept through the Southern Cape, so this region knows all too well about wildfires.

The George campus is also the venue for the highly acclaimed Fire Management programme offered by NMU which equips aspirant foresters and land managers with a deeper understanding of fire dynamics and the practical application of fire risk reduction, fire management and suppression.

The Symposium brings together top rated international and South African-based fire management specialists who will share their expertise in a very practical and applied manner. Internationally renowned fire scientist Prof Pete Fule will deliver the first keynote address.

The 2nd day of the event is a field day that will provide opportunities for Symposium participants to visit the Southern Cape region to observe the unique vegetation and take note of fire related issues - hosted by the Southern Cape Fire Protection Association.

For more information contact tiaan.pool@mandela.ac.za or Hannes.vanZyl@mandela.ac.za or sonia.roets@mandela.ac.za.

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.