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The 45th International Forestry Students’ Symposium (IFSS 2017) which will be hosted by the South African chapters of the International Forestry Students’ Associations (IFSA), spearheaded by NMMU is set to attract more than 130 students from 56 countries to South Africa between 2 and 17 July.

This event, to be held on the George Campus, presents the City and Eden District with a perfect opportunity to introduce the Southern Cape as a premier destination for educational excellence and a tourism mecca for the world. 

The theme for the symposium is “Forestry in a diverse environment: Siyaphi? (Where to from here?)”  It aims to explore the rapidly changing nature of forestry since socio-economic components are becoming as important as the traditional biophysical components. “Landscapes are transforming and humanity has become a key driver of global change. This is relevant to the youth because forestry can now be explored from a wide array of angles. In the South African context in particular it is anticipated that this important forum will enable the youth to leverage social business models in forestry”, the local organising team explained.

Issues that are critical to the forestry industry will be debated and could include sub-themes such as:  Forestry and the inclusion of rural areas; Mechanization within forestry; Land reform and tenure and how this affects the forestry industry; Youth involvement in forestry; Environmental impacts of forestry and possible mitigation measures; and Global warming and forestry.

NMMU Forestry students had initiated the concept and design of the winning bid to host the event in South Africa during the 2015 IFSS which was held in the Philippines. The IFSS 2017 Organising Committee consists of students from the Forestry Associations of NMMU, the University of Venda, Stellenbosch University, Fort Cox and the University of Pretoria.  This will be the first time in the history of IFSA that this global conference will be hosted by a team of collaborating local chapters from one country, hence making it a truly South African symposium.

IFSS 2017 will provide an opportunity to showcase South African forestry to the world and, furthermore, to explore perspectives on various aspects of Sustainable Forest Management. The symposium connects forestry students worldwide and affords the participants a golden opportunity to learn and acquire knowledge on forestry in the host country. It also offers networking opportunities for the budding professionals and drives global visions for sustainable forest management, given the diversity of attendees from the numerous participating countries.

The programme for the upcoming two-week symposium commences in Cape Town and includes a tour of various provinces, with visits to key forestry areas, stakeholders and sites of cultural significance in the Eastern Cape  (Hogsback, Fort Cox Forestry College); KZN (Cedara Agricultural  College), with visits to industry (Mondi, Sappi). Visits to the Kruger National Park and Cradle of Human Kind are also included. The programme concludes in Pretoria (University of Pretoria) on 16 July, with international delegates scheduled for departure from the Oliver Tambo Airport on 17 July.  

Let the countdown begin! … Excited members of the IFSS Local Organising Committee joined by the NMMU George Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson (front centre), Ms Irene Mathabela (DAFF) and Prof Jos Louw (back, left). The group impressed with their “state of readiness” report as the last arrangements are being put in place to host this much anticipated international forestry event, which follows barely two years after NMMU had hosted the World Forestry Indaba at the George Campus.

Strong partners … During a recent visit to the NMMU George Campus, Deputy Director for Sector Capacity Development at DAFF Head Office in Pretoria, Ms Irene Mathabela (centre) expressed her appreciation and delight at the meticulous approach employed and great strides made by the IFSS local organising team in finalising arrangements for presenting a world-class student forestry event in South Africa. She is flanked by the Campus Principal, Prof Quinton Johnson (right) and Prof Jos Louw (Science Faculty, School of Natural Resource Management), along with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the local organising committee, Ullrich Hechter (left) and Kopano Khwene (right).

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Ms Alet van Tonder
Manager: Marketing & Corporate Relations
Tel: 27 44 801 5098