Saasveld Forestry Association in action

June 15, 2012

 The Saasveld Forestry Association (SFA) represents 300 Forestry and 26 Wood Technology students of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (George Campus) locally, nationally and internationally on an academic and social level.

Saasveld Forestry Assoc executive committee Saasveld Forestry Assoc executive members
SFA 2012 executive committee from left: Akhile Mahlaba, Vice-chair; Sikhumbuzo Nxumalo, Chairman; and Mduduzi Khoza, Secretary. Graham Durheim (SANParks representative) gave the first years a talk.


The SFA committee comprises three executive committee members, chairperson Sikhumbuzo Nxumalo (BTech Forestry), vice-chair Akhile Mahlaba (BTech Forestry) and secretary Mduduzi Khoza (Forestry 3rd year). Other committee members are honorary president Barry Muller (lecturer in Wood Technology) and international Forestry Student Association (IFSA) Southern Africa representatives Kutelani Tshivhase and Hannes van Zyl (both Forestry Masters students).

SFA has an excellent relationship with other local student forestry associations, such as Fort Cox Forestry Student Association and the Forestry Student Association at Stellenbosch University.

This year, SFA started on a high note by organising the BTech braai, which took place in early February when the BTech group was doing its block-course modules. Soon after the BTech braai, the first years arrived and, as always, SFA organised a tour of the fabulous indigenous forest near Saasveld Campus, known as SANParks Groeneweide. SFA has developed a strong relationship with the SANParks management and SANParks has been supportive in committing themselves to accompanying the first-year group on this walk. They always give an interesting talk to students about our indigenous forests.

The first speaker in this year's forest walk, Graham Durheim (the SANParks representative) gave the first years an unforgettable moment as he informed the students about the history of indigenous forests in South Africa. He discussed the importance of conserving these protected species, as well as their management in a more sustainable manner to conserve our environment for future generations. The second speaker was Bruce Fundizile, another SANParks representative. His talk mainly concerned looking at the policy involved in managing the indigenous forests. He explained the problems normally faced by those concerned with the indigenous forests, stating that poachers are very problematic in these areas. He also mentioned some of the dangerous animal species that are found in the forest environment.

After the SANParks representatives had finished their presentations, the last talk was delivered by Sikhumbuzo Nxumalo, who introduced SFA to the first-year students, informing them what has been achieved by SFA in the past, as well as indicating the way forward; he encouraged the first years to participate in all SFA activities. This way, they would feel welcome and part of the forestry family at Saasveld. The afternoon ended with the customary braai in the forest for all the hungry students.

The excitement was written on their faces when they came back and they expressed their pleasure at the excursion and at being part of the Forestry and Wood technology Programmes. Many commented that Saasveld was their second home, which was noted on Facebook, that most famous of social networks. Several first-year students updated their status based on the walk they had enjoyed. (SFA created its Facebook page where activities and events are updated on a regular basis. The SFA page is found by following this link:!/pages/SFA-Saasveld-Forestry-Association/127223477375817)

Activities organised by SFA this year

  • Campus life event, whereby the members volunteered to sit at the SFA stall giving Forestry information to interested individuals and also raising the SFA flag to be visible on Campus as an active student society.
  • Drivers licences – the committee organised a speaker from the local driving school to give a talk to students without drivers and/learners licences.
  • Green Campus Day, whereby SFA members clean litter around the campus mainly caused by the baboons.
  • Fun games.
  • Fundraising movie night.

The SFA members have also participated in the Cape epic, a tree identification project, graduation ceremony, blood donation campaign, NMMU George open day, as well as Sports Fun day.

A new slogan 'We care for the future' was adopted by the SFA after members were asked to come up with ideas. The winning slogan was contributed by first year Forestry class captain, Carmen de Neef.

The major challenge faced by the SFA this year is to find suitable placements for the second-year students for their practical training. We would be most grateful if any concerned individual could help these desperate students as experiential training with an official forestry company or contractor is part of their course. The second-years go out for a period of nine months to gain experience in their chosen field. Their short resumes can be viewed on our Facebook page under "Notes" on the link provided above.

Further planned SFA activities this year

  • Community projects i.e. visiting local school learners to advise them about Forestry and Wood Technology programmes as a possible career.
  • Assisting students with drivers licences especially first years by ensuring that they get ready for their experiential training next year.
  • Corporate clothing orders for all SFA members and interested bodies.Turkey IFSA conference taking place in August this year.
  • Braai for the 3rd year group as well as the Lecturer of the year award.
  • BTech symposium and Southern African Regional Meeting (SARM).
  • Arbour week and last Bi-annual General Meeting.
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