Forest21 team at work.
FOREST21 is a collaborative project between universities in South Africa, Finland and Norway pursuing action research and capacity development in three key areas: climate-smart forestry, forestry entrepreneurship, and student-centred teaching methods. The partner universities include the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), the Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute, Nelson Mandela University (NMU), Stellenbosch University (SU) and the University of Venda (UNIVEN), Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland (coordinator) Aalto University, Finland Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway.
Speaking on the event, Prof Puffy Soundy, the HOD Crop Science at the Faculty of Science and the TUT Project Leader said Forest21 partners will present the mid-term report to the Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), as well as other stakeholders on the progress and milestones of the Forest21 programme since its launch in 2020. In addition, a TUT Forestry Qualification due to commence in 2024 will be unveiled at the event and areas of collaboration from industry and Department identified. Some of the possible areas of collaboration will include industry and officials offering guest lecturers on the forestry qualification, as a standard feature.
Dr Blessing Karumbidza who is driving the activities of the Forest21 programme in TUT indicated that “TUT will make proposals about the possible options and scenarios relating to the future of the deliverables, partnerships and leadership of the programme beyond the funding period. The overarching project aim is to use innovation and research to improve the forestry curriculum offered in all five institutions of higher education offering forestry programmes in South Africa.”
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement said “within the consortium, TUT drives dissemination and publicity of Forest21 activities and it is pleasing to share that this mandate has been largely achieved. Of particular importance, Forest21’s three key pillars are climate-smart forestry innovation, curriculum transformation and entrepreneurship advancement in forestry education to address issues such as poverty and unemployment. Consequently, TUT plans to start the process of establishing a research chair, which will culminate into a centre covering these key themes to ensure sustainability and continuity post Erasmus+ funding period.”
“The University is looking forward to hosting the stakeholder engagement workshop and the important dialogue on the 21st Century Climate-Smart Forestry Education for Livelihoods and Sustainability in South Africa. This offers us an opportunity to celebrate ground-breaking collaboration between academia, industry and government towards forestry transformation”, Dr Papu-Zamxaka conclude.