Meet the women in forestry research

Meet eighteen women, from across the Forestry Industry and its research partners, who represent a small fraction the growing body of female scientists and researchers working within the Forestry Sector. The focus of their research may vary dramatically, spanning the chemical, physical and biological sciences, but their shared passion for forestry-science and inspiring the next generation of female forestry researchers unites them.

“I hope one day I will be able to inspire a young woman and for her to end up enjoying science as I do.” – Sinazo Njamela, Sappi Senior Chemical Technologist

The United Nations have dedicated 11 February to the Women and Girls in Science, making it an International Day to address the imbalance in gender equality in science. According to UNESCO, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women, and addressing this is vital for the achievement of internationally-agreed development goals including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“To rise to the challenges of the 21st century, we need to harness our full potential. That requires dismantling gender stereotypes. On this International Day of Women and Girls in Science, let’s pledge to end the gender imbalance in science.” – Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

To celebrate this International Day, Forestry South Africa (FSA) has provided a platform on its website,, to highlight just a few of the inspirational women working in forestry research.

“Science and forestry are too often mistakenly assumed to be career paths for men, but this simply is not true. At FSA, we are trying to dispel this myth by promoting the diverse array of women who through science, research and innovation are helping to shape the future, and face, of forestry and its value chain.” – Dr Ronald Heath, FSA Director of Research and Protection

The hope is that these profiles of successful, passionate and driven female scientists and researchers, will inspire other women currently dreaming of a career in forestry research but worried their gender may make them exempt to reconsider a future in forestry-science.

“It is not a man’s world, any women can become a successful forester and scientist.” – Professor Mary Scholes, University of Witwatersrand

“I would encourage ladies to take up a career in forest science because it is a diverse industry that allows you to get a diverse array of skill sets.” – Nonku Ntinga, Mondi Forest Operations Research Specialist

“The only limitation are your aspirations, I believe we should respond to every call that excites our spirits and seize every opportunity as if the universe is rigged in our favour.” – Preesha Bridglall, University of KwaZulu-Natal / ICFR