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August : ICFR’s 7th Forest Science Symposium – a mix of science, partnerships, research, knowledge sharing & networking

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2 August, 2017

ICFR's 7th Forest Science Symposium - a mix of science, partnerships, research, knowledge sharing & networking

Forest Science Symposium
   Group photo taken at the 7th Forest Science Symposium. The event was well attended with a wide
representationacross the forestry sector


The Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) held its 7th Forest Science Symposium from 18 to 20 July, at the One Life Church in Pietermaritzburg. The three-day event was co-hosted by the ICFR, the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and other research partners. The Symposium was opened by event organiser, Sally Upfold (Knowledge Manager: ICFR), with welcome addresses from Dr Andrew Morris (Acting Director: ICFR), Ms Pumeza Nodada (Chief Director - Forestry Development and Regulations: DAFF) and Prof Mike Wingfield (President: IUFRO). With representation from 15 countries, the event was attended by over 250 researchers, forestry managers, academics, students and others working in the forestry public and private sectors. African delegates who had attended IUFRO's Special Programme for Development of Capacities (IUFRO-SPDC) pre-symposium workshop on Systematic Review as well as representatives from the International Forestry Students' Association (IFSA) were also among those who attended.

The theme of "Research Underpinning the Sustainability of a Diverse Forestry Sector" was explored broadly with presentations covering a wide range of topics including silviculture and forestry management, productivity, risk mitigation, tree breeding, new technologies as well as social aspects that impact the forestry sector. Much value was gained from the invited speakers who shared knowledge and expertise in their respective fields; Prof Gary Hodge (CAMCORE), Prof Bruce Sithole (CSIR/UKZN), Prof Mary Scholes (Wits), Prof Mike Wingfield (FABI), Prof Francois Engelbrecht (CSIR), Prof Colin Dyer (ex-ICFR), Dr Cathy Sutherland (UKZN), Dr Andrew Morris (ICFR), Dr Gillian Petrokovsky (IUFRO-SPDC/Oxford University) and Janice Burns (IUFRO).

In addition to the regular format for papers and posters, this year's Symposium incorporated new forms of knowledge sharing in panel discussions which facilitated the sharing of expertise, and speed papers which allowed students and researchers to share their work through creative and concise informal presentations. Valuable discussion points were generated, allowing for enthusiastic interaction and the opportunity for new ideas to arise. The poster session was held in conjunction with an evening cocktail party which presented excellent opportunities for knowledge sharing, networking, catching-up with peers and some laughs. These opportunities to network and interact with others in the forestry industry form one of the greatest highlights of such events. Communication around the event also created a buzz on social media with many of those present tweeting highlights using #fss2017 and @ICFR_SA handle.

Generous sponsorship from public and private sectors including the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), Ellepot, EziGro, Forestry South Africa (FSA), Hayfields Mica, Husqvarna, Land Resources International (LRI), Merensky, Mondi, NCT Forestry Co-operative, NTE, PG Bison, Safcol, Sappi, Sunshine Seedlings, Sutherland Seedlings, TWK Agri, UCL, World Hardwood and York Timber, ensured delegates enjoyed a high-quality event. A judging panel scored all the paper and poster contributions in terms of quality and relevance. Best paper was awarded to Mondi's Dr Kitt Payn and runner up to exciting new researcher Tatenda Mapeta from NMMU. In the speed paper sessions, the ICFR took home both first and second prizes; Dr Benice Sivparsad and Dr Kabir Peerbhay respectively. The prize for the best poster was awarded to NMMU postgraduate student Kylle Schwegman while the ICFR's Nkosinathi Kaptein was the runner up.

The 7th Forest Science Symposium coincided with the ICFR celebrating its 70th birthday this year, with a poster exhibition showcasing the history of the ICFR's partnerships within the forestry sector and its research efforts towards addressing current and future challenges. The goals of the Forest Science Symposium were successfully achieved in bringing together forest scientists and stakeholders and stimulating interaction and discussion to strengthen research partnerships and collaboration.

The Symposium programme book containing abstracts for the papers, speed papers and posters is available on the ICFR website ( along with selected presentations.

Forest Science Symposium

Panel discussion led by Dr Andrew Morris (ICFR, far left) and panel participants seated from left to right: Dr Kitt Payn (Mondi), Dr Arnulf Kanzler (Sappi), Dr Steve Verryn (Creative Breeding), Prof Zander Myburg (FMG, University of Pretoria), Prof Mike Wingfield (FABI) and Prof Gary Hodge (CAMCORE).

Forest Science Symposium
The combined poster session and cocktail evening was a good opportunity for networking.

Source: ICFR