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Contributing to strengthening forestry education in South Africa

Forest workers with tractor and chopped down trees next to them.

Climate smart: The Erasmus + funded project will help make South African forestry students more attractive to the industry. (Photo: INN University)

INN University will play a central role in the utilisation of ten million EU-granted kroner towards the transformation of higher educations in forestry in South Africa into more future-oriented.

It is no coincidence that it is the academic environment at Evenstad that has been asked to contribute to this unique three-year Erasmus + project.

“We at Evenstad have the expertise in climate-smart forestry. We also have experience with so-called problem-based learning (PBL),” says Vladimir Naumov, associate professor at the Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management at Evenstad.

He is INN University's representative in this project where the institution, together with two universities in Finland, will be involved in shaping the forest education of the future at five universities in South Africa.

Photo of Vladimir Naumov

Vladimir Naumov looks forward to starting the work in earnest and hopes there will be opportunity for student exchange this year. (Photo: INN University)

Ensuring high quality

Vladimir Naumov looks forward to starting the work in earnest and hopes there will be an opportunity for student exchange this year.

The project is titled  "21st Century Climate-Smart Forestry Education for Livelihoods and Sustainability in South Africa" – shortened to FOREST21. 

The two universities in Finland involved in the project have for a long time collaborated with their sister institutions in South Africa, but contacted the Evenstad academic environment to utilise their expertise.

“We have been given responsibility for the quality of the entire project to ensure we reach the goals that have been set,” says Naumov.

 The work started this year and the goal is clear.

 “The project is about helping the South African universities that conduct forestry education to develop study programmes that are adapted to the market in the country so that students land a job after graduation.”

Climate-smart forestry

In addition to ensuring that the project reaches its goals, INN University will contribute to professional development.

“Our pedagogical portion is based on PBL. We develop a problem that the students work on solving practically, in close collaboration with the industry itself,” says Vladimir.

And it is precisely a close link between education and the forestry industry that is important to achieve. This is something the academic environment at Evenstad is used to.

 “Students who partake in education within forestry in South Africa have problems getting a job when they graduate. We will help to further develop their study programmes so that they correspond to the challenges they face in everyday life,” says Naumov.

And among the challenges they face in everyday life is how to facilitate climate-friendly forestry.

“An important part of the project will revolve around the climate changes the industry is facing,” says the associate professor at Evenstad.

FOREST21 project banner

Research to be conducted during the project

The project is thus in its infancy.

Work groups have been set up, plans have been made for a large-scale student exchange between the participating countries, and in the coming months the focus will be mapping.

“We will conduct a survey in the industry and among the five universities that are involved, to find out what they think they lack when it comes to, among other things, climate-smart forestry,” says Vladimir.

And, not least, research will be conducted along the way.

“We will write some papers based on what we find out through these surveys and using data we get access to during the project,” Vladimir Naumov concludes.

Collaborators:

South Africa:

  • University of Venda
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • Fort Cox Agriculture and Forestry Training Institute
  • Nelson Mandela University
  • Stellenbosch University

Europe:

  • Häme University of Applied Sciences, Finland (coordinator)
  • Aalto University, Finland
  • Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway