Forest Health Specialist
- BSc Microbiology (UP)
- BSc Hons Microbiology (UP)
- MSc Microbiology (UP)
Forestry career: 17 years
I work with fungi, bacteria and insects that cause disease on our plantation trees and am responsible for ensuring we, at Mondi, use an integrated approach to manage the impact of these diseases. I work closely with our Tree breeders and Operations to make sure we plant healthy trees and keep them healthy until harvesting to ensure the future of our business.
My journey in the forestry industry began when I joined the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP) at the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) for my Masters studies. My project was focussed on the bacterial light pathogens in the genus Pantoea, but it was through collecting samples for my project and working in the diagnostic clinic that I discovered my passion for field work and tree disease diagnostics. As the diagnostic clinic manager and later field extension officer I worked closely with foresters and researchers in the industry. I am grateful for the 15 years spent at the TPCP learning from, and working alongside, world class scientists in the field of tree health. In my current capacity as Forest Health Specialist, I am able to use the knowledge gained at the TPCP to do my part in ensuring sustainable plantation forestry in South Africa.
WHY I LOVE WORKING IN THE FORESTRY SECTOR
The forestry industry is a dynamic, evolving and challenging place to work. Working in a team, with people who are passionate about what they do and learning from them every day make facing the challenges so much more fun. I love the fact that I can apply the knowledge I gain in a practical way to find solutions and do my small part to keep the industry sustainable into the future.
MY ADVICE TO THOSE EXPLORING A CAREER IN FORESTRY
Be open to possibilities and don’t limit your thinking on what you can do. Forestry has become so much more than just planting and growing trees, there is an opportunity for just about every skill set. Find the thing you feel passionate about, work hard at it and you will succeed.