Sappi Forests takes forestry to learners

September 14, 2011

More than 30 000 eager learners attended career days organised by the Mpumalanga Department of Education in the four major district municipalities, namely Gert Sibande, Ehlanzeni, Bohlabela and Nkangala. For many kids from the rural areas, this might be the only career exposure they would get before hitting the exams and thereafter, university or the job market.

Sappi and careers booklet

Sappi forester Dirk van Dyk speaks to learners at one of the career days.

Mpumalanga is an important forestry area for both the country and Sappi, thus it is very important to announce and introduce Sappi Forestry and its exciting, diverse career opportunities to the local learners. Kids from all over the region received first-hand career information and forestry facts from the foresters themselves. Foresters explained the importance of forestry and the roles of foresters by highlighting the positive economic, social and environmental contributions of forestry.

Foresters also put right some of the negative perceptions toward forestry like some perceived negative environmental impacts, forestry's water use, deforestation and pollution. Foresters explained that forestry was actually one of the smallest agricultural water consumers – 2.7% of runoff water, and that trees in plantations are a renewable, natural resource. For every tree felled, another is planted. Also, trees contribute to counteracting pollution by absorbing CO2 and emitting O2.

Learners were treated to a typical day in the life of a forester, with practical presentations in simulated forestry gardens as well as presentations and displays. The entire forestry process, The Fibre Trail – from seedling to product, was discussed and presented, with astonishment from learners when the link between trees, cellulose and ice cream was confirmed.

Much career and industry interest was generated and buzzing post-presentation question and answer sessions were common. Working on Fire and LEFPA (Lowveld & Escarpment Fire Protection Association) relayed a strong fire awareness message.

Published in June 2011

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