Education and Training
Growing current and future generations of foresters
The Forestry Industry in South Africa has a critical role to play, not only in enhancing rural socio-economic and livelihood opportunities and development but also through its provision of environmental services and its potential to mitigate global sustainability challenges. Forestry is one of the key leverage points for South Africa as the country strives to address its high unemployment rate crisis and advance its National Climate Change Adaptation Plans in order to responsibly contribute to environmental sustainability. As such, Forestry was declared as one of the seven industrial sectors earmarked for growth under the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiatives for South Africa (ASGISA) Programme of South Africa. Such a prominent role in this Programme requires a critical mass of trained technicians, foresters, scientists and forest managers. More importantly, the South African Institutes of Higher Education offering forestry programmes not only educate and train local students but also those from the rest of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Africa and the world.
It is for the above reasons that education and training is one of the Key Focus Areas of Forestry South Africa. Beyond the financial support provided to Higher Education Institutes, FSA and its members play an active through their representation on, for example, the FP&M SETA Board and Audit Committee and various Tertiary Educational Institutions’ Advisory Boards related to forestry education. The latter is instructive, as it not only gives the institutions an opportunity to inform Industry of current developments and their future plans but also for the Industry to advise and guide the Institutions so as to overcome challenges faced and most importantly, to help shape their academic programmes and curricula to best serve the skills needs of the Industry. The overall objective thereof is to help ensure that the skills level of those who are either about to enter the Industry (e.g. forestry students) or those who are already employed in Industry, are equipped with the skills needed to perform their respective tasks optimally, as well as aligning the needs of industry with the objectives of the HEI’s. It is only through achieving this that the medium- to long-term financial sustainability of the Industry can be assured through constant increases in productivity. FSA does not work alone in trying to achieve this goal and works closely with sister organisations such as the SA Forestry Contractors’ Association (SAFCA) and the Forestry Industry Training Providers’ Association (FITPA).
FSA Education and Training partners
FSA per se and some of our larger members have played a role in this Association since inception, the objective of which being to provide its training provider members with a professional platform for engagement on matters common to the forestry training fraternity, as well as a unified and collective voice in lobbying Government and Industry.
The Fort Cox forestry department is one of two academic departments at the Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute. The department offers a dynamic academic three-year general forestry diploma programme at NQF level 6 which is accredited and recognised by the Council on Higher Education. The aim of Fort Cox is to continue producing high-quality diplomates who are responsive to the current challenges facing the Forestry Industry. Moreover, considering the 100 000 ha afforestation programme earmarked for the Eastern Cape Province, the Fort Cox forestry department has a major role to play in the capacitating of future foresters who will sustain the afforestation programme. Through dedicated partnerships with private companies in the Industry that provide an integral opportunity of exposure to current and prospective students to attain various technical experiences in forest management, Fort Cox will continue to provide problem-based learning to assist in resolving many of the real problems of the forestry sector in South Africa.
George Campus is a firm favourite of the students who study Forestry because of its beautiful setting, natural surroundings and rich forestry history. The campus itself is surrounded by commercial forests, making it the ideal setting, integrating academic training and practical experience so that students enjoy broad exposure to the industry and its practices.
The South African Forestry Industry prides itself on the strong emphasis it has placed on the management of renewable resources, continually striving to ensure sustainability on an economic, social and environmental basis. Forest management has become one of the most important pre-requisites for the survival of the Forestry Industry today. It is of the utmost importance that the application of technical knowledge and skills are integrated with sound management principles. The Forestry courses offered at the George Campus are more than adequate to equip students to satisfy this need.
Special knowledge, skills and management expertise are required for sustainable agricultural and forestry production. SUN’s wide range of teaching programmes covers, therefore, all aspects of natural resource management, plant and animal production, post-harvest operations and economic management, from the basic science to the practical and economic aspects of the respective value chains of agriculture and of forestry. The Department of Forestry and Wood Sciences at Stellenbosch University (DFWS) has strengthened its original mandate and is a recognised international leader in this regard.
Teaching, research, and development services are provided to a full spectrum of stakeholders, both locally and internationally, which include the South African and international commercial forestry sector, Government and other public forestry branches, NGOs and society as a whole. The DFWS has a small team of dedicated lecturers and researchers, supported by knowledgeable and experienced technical and administrative staff.Graduates in agriculture and forestry can follow a variety of careers in plant or animal production, conservation, processing, and marketing. There are, for example, careers in research, teaching, consultation, information dissemination, farm management, environmental management and industrial plant management (cellars, food factories and sawmills). Professions and careers such as these are not only practised in agricultural and forestry companies, but also in associated industries, commercial enterprises and Government departments. Agrisciences graduates of this University enjoy high regard in the international labour market.
The Fibre Processing and Manufacturing (FP&M) SETA was established by the Minister of Higher Education and Training on 1 April 2011 after the Government took a decision to cluster sectors in order to strengthen value-chain linkages between related industries. The FP&M SETA mandate is: to provide skills development services to the clothing, footwear, forestry, furniture, general goods, leather, packaging, print media, printing, publishing, pulp and paper, textiles and wood products sectors; to implement the objectives of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III); and to ensure that people obtain critical or scarce skills that are needed to build the capacity of the sector to become economically sustainable and globally competitive. FSA has, since inception, sat on the Board of the SETA and well as its Audit and Risk Committee. FSA’s relationship with the FP&M SETA has been excellent and has resulted in considerable funds being made available to FSA and its members alike over the years.
FSA works in close partnership with a number of private training providers, as well as Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).