Forestry is not an industry that is scared of long-term investments, with the trees planted today in some cases only yielding a return on the investment two decades in the future. As a sector that can see the future potential of current investments, it is not surprising that the Industry unanimously supports the Forest21 initiative – an initiative investing in the students of today to ensure a stronger more adaptive industry in the future.
The Forest21 project sees the five educational institutes that teach forestry in South Africa joining hands with three European universities. The aim of the €1 Million project – to advance the quality of education in the field of forestry entrepreneurship through problem-based learning and provide students with a deeper understanding of climate-smart forestry.
Globally and locally, we are at a critical crossroads, where decisions made today will impact and shape the world our children inherit in the future. Climate change is a global challenge where we are rapidly reaching a tipping point from which there is no return. At the same time, in South Africa, we are facing youth unemployment challenges that have economic and social ramifications.
The Forestry Sector offers potential solutions to both. As a sustainable, renewable industry that actively sequestrates carbon, forestry is already seen as having a central role in a post-COVID green economic recovery – both in South Africa and globally. Investment in the production and processing of forest resources will increase local employment in South Africa.
“The Forest21 project supports the key efforts of the country in dealing with the triple ills of unemployment, poverty and inequality. It also improves the country’s efforts towards the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change. The emphasis on forestry entrepreneurship and climate change is exactly what the country needs right now”, says Norman Dlamini, Forestry South Africa Director of Business Development.
The project will foster entrepreneurial skills sets in students by exposing them to real-life forestry challenges and problem-solving required to address these. “When you come closer to the reality, problems are not as complicated as they look when you extract them”, explained Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus, who gave a highly inspirational speech for the Forest21 participants about the universities’ role in shaping the world and the importance of entrepreneurship in higher education.
To learn more about this exciting initiative, please visit the Forest21 website: www.forest21.org
Counting down to Forest21 kick-off
FOREST21 will be officially launched in a virtual kick-off over two days. The first of which sees keynote speeches from Ministers, academics, forestry experts and leaders of forestry organisations, with the second day focusing on practical project implementation. The virtual kick-off is open to all, so please sign up for the Zoom event here.
Click here, to download the official two-day programme.