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My IFSA experience in South Africa

I was so overwhelmed with the joy of traveling to South Africa, it was like a candle was lit inside of me and I could scarcely rest for the couple of hours that I was in the plane though it was a night trip.

It was my first experience of flying on a plane and I was so excited in spite of the fact that I was a little bit scared. I envisioned how South Africa would look like, the dressing, food, climate, vegetation, building structures, market and the new friends I was going to make. I was so glad to have sat beside a professor of the University of Ibadan who was my gist partner until the point when I at long last shut my eyes to rest. When the plane arrived at OR Tambo International Airport, my heart skipped with a smile on my face and a welcome to Johannesburg from the customer services as I also welcome myself to the land of the famous freedom fighter Nelson Mandela. I needed to go and pick my baggage as I was prepared for the next flight to Pietermaritzburg and on landing, I was here for the 7th Forest Science Symposium.

The Symposium which was hosted by the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) aimed at bringing together different scientist from everywhere throughout the world. The theme of the symposium was Research Underpinning the sustainability of diverse forestry sector.

Diverse Research works were presented and information was shared for which was in form of full academic papers, panel session and poster presentation programmed include full papers, panel sessions and poster presentation. Prof Francois Engelbrecht presented on ‘Future Climate change over Africa and Potential Implications for the forestry sector’. He stated the summer 2016/2017 was associated with record-breaking temperature across the southern African region and in some provinces of South Africa, with a devastating drought. These provincial extremes with the aftereffect of a very strong El Nino event in the blend with the regional consequences of systematic global warming. Regional climate models are used to explore how future climate change may progressively affect African continent by altering the frequency of occurrence and intensity of extreme weather events.

Research work was discussed to address issues, for example; Importance of gene conservation to tree improvement, Harnessing genomics to address yield challenges in South African Forestry, Plantation tree health: Increasing threatened by pest and diseases, Impact of REDD+ activities to rural communities livelihood, Global outlook on Forest Education, etc.

I was empowered to gain some knowledge, develop skills in my area of Interest to advance my career. I also established connections with role models in my field of interest as I was able to meet research scientists from diverse sectors. The following themes were covered:

  • Sustainable use of water resources

Because of groundwater depletion and change in rainfall pattern, there is the need to utilize water in a sustainable way. I gained knowledge of the connection between tree production systems and surface water resources which has fully translated into water conservation management approaches

  • Improving tree health

Teratosphaeria spp. affecting emerging Eucalyptus leaf and shoot was generally recognized as an imminent danger that has an impact on the long-term sustainability of intensively managed plantations. Sharing of knowledge on this added to my knowledge about the type of tree pest and their impacts on trees.

  • Food security

Agro-forestry is recognized as having opportunities to improve agricultural production, produce food, fiber, fuel, reduce pressure on natural forest and address the effect of climate change on agriculture and forestry sector. I gained knowledge on sustainable agroforestry practices as having the potential to contribute to poverty alleviation and economic growth.

Networking among the youth

Involvement of youth in the 7th Forest Science Symposium have enhanced my communication skills, discussed challenges, solutions and had fun while learning. The sentiment of being carried along and participating in such symposium helped me realize the importance of self-development, leadership competencies thereby promoting greater understanding of forestry issues and gave fresh perspectives to address problems for sound decision making.

It was an exciting and fulfilling experience to have been a case study of the task force collaboration to enhance forestry education in Africa presenting the outcome of the Northern Africa Regional Meeting.

Durban visitation was another excitement for me. It is such a bustling spot with lovely views. The view of the warm subtropical climate, extensive beaches, Celebrating in the South African way and the shopping malls make the place an exciting tourist spot. I wish I had captured every single moment as it is one you wouldn’t want to miss in South Africa. For me, Durban was enjoyable.

South Africa was fun. The country of the great leader; Nelson Mandela.


Picture credit: Temitope Rebecca