The IFSA Southern African Region taking part in the FOREST21 project, which involves five universities in South Africa, two from Finland, and one from Norway.

Southern Africa Forestry has initiated a project that is a collaboration between South Africa, Norway, and Finland and focuses on building capacity in forestry higher education institutions in the region. The capacity-building project in higher education is named “21st Century Climate-Smart Forestry Education for Livelihoods and Sustainability in South Africa” (FOREST21), and it includes five South African universities, two universities in Finland, and one university in Norway. The project aims to improve the forestry curriculum in South Africa’s five higher education institutions that deliver forestry programs. FOREST21 aims to mainstream or bring climate-smart forestry and entrepreneurial innovation to the forefront of forestry education. The Erasmus+ program of the European Union provides key funding for the initiative.

The project’s goal is to update forestry education curricula to equip graduates with problem-solving skills, an entrepreneurial mentality, and climate-smart thinking. The curriculum enhancement will not be standardized across all universities; rather, each participating university will choose what to incorporate from the pool of created information and package it to fit their own unique circumstances.

FOREST21 also aims to strengthen relations between industry and forestry-related higher education institutions in South Africa and between higher education institutions themselves. The project also aspires to foster international collaboration. On the 14th of April 2021, the project was formally unveiled, with the ceremony taking place virtually. The project was extended an invitation to the (International Forestry Student Association) Southern Africa Region.

The Southern Africa Regional Representatives, whose names are Doctor Tshego and Ullrich Hechter, and Mr. Norman Dlamini, the Business Development Director in Forestry South Africa, held a virtual meeting be the launch of the project FOREST21. The virtual meeting aimed to introduce the FOREST21 project and invite the IFSA Southern African Regional Committee to participate in it. According to Mr. Norman Dlamini, the key aim of involving IFSA students in the project is to: Partner with a student body that is active and interested in a range of projects that are important to the industry and society. The program’s beneficiaries should ideally be IFSA students.

As the Southern Africa Regional Representative and on behalf of the Southern African community, we are ecstatic to be a part of the FOREST21 project, which was launched on April 14th and will play a critical role in the livelihood and forestry sectors both locally and globally. The launch ceremony provided us with invaluable experience.