Change the world


A group of local and international guests is visiting George Campus for a two-week long Forest21 student project. This project brings together students from various disciplines across four universities: Nelson Mandela University, as the host, the University of Venda, Stellenbosch University, and Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences.  


Forest21 participants, including students and mentors from Mandela Uni, UniVen, Inland Norway University and Stellenbosch University

Their backgrounds span natural resource management (agriculture, forestry, nature conservation, geoinformatics) and various business disciplines, fostering a truly multidisciplinary learning environment.

The project kicked off on 15 April with a welcome from Dr Kaluke Mawila, Senior Director of the George Campus, followed by an introduction to the main theme and challenge by Professor Jos Louw, Director for the Cluster of Natural Resource Science and Management.

This challenge served as the focus for the students throughout the two weeks.

To enrich the learning experience, the programme featured presentations by three industry specialists.

Dr Ilaria Germishuizen of the Institute of Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) shed light on commercial forestry in a climate-stressed environment, while Mandela University PhD student Regardt Ferreira, explored the potential of remote sensing for monitoring forest health.

Lastly, Sean Hill from Earth Drones provided a glimpse into the future of conservation and commercial applications through drone technology.

Over the two weeks, students embarked on enriching field trips, visiting communities and conservation areas in Wilderness, riparian zones, MTO Kruisfontein commercial plantation and an intensive agricultural plant and animal production system for exposure to technology and decision-support systems for optimal production.

These immersive experiences provide valuable data for analysing complex challenges faced by the different stakeholders in the context of climate change. Equipped with knowledge from field trips and stakeholder interactions, students were tasked with identifying a socio-ecological challenge.

They then delved deeper, evaluating critical factors within the production and ecological systems. This analysis guided them in selecting appropriate technologies and methodologies for efficient detection and monitoring of these key variables.

This project goes beyond imparting technical skills. Students also gain valuable soft skills, such as project management, teamwork, presentation delivery, and time management. Perhaps most importantly, they are learning the power of collaboration across disciplines and cultures, a skillset invaluable for success in today's globalised world.

This international project is a testament to the University's commitment to fostering leaders for sustainable futures, who can navigate the complexities of the dynamic socio-ecological systems in a rapidly changing world.

Students will emerge from the programme equipped with a powerful skillset, including the ability to analyse and solve challenges in transformed landscapes, evaluate and interpret the processes that drive ecosystem functioning, apply entrepreneurial and innovative thinking to natural resource management, thrive in multidisciplinary and multicultural environments, and communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders.

About Forest 21

Forest21 is a joint project that is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union for strengthening capacity in South African higher education in forestry. The project aims to promote climate-smart forestry and entrepreneurial innovativeness in forestry education while equipping students with the skills they need to address environmental challenges and navigate a dynamic job market. At the heart of the project lies problem-based learning (PBL), an approach that throws students headfirst into real-world scenarios, fostering critical thinking and teamwork as they devise solutions.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160