NMMU News

Assistant Librarian appointed permanently at NMMU George

Deslynne Hill has been appointed permanently as Assistant Librarian at NMMU’s George Campus with effect from1 July 2012.

Hill, a NMMU alumnus, is no newcomer at Saasveld, though. She has been working at the George Campus library on contract basis since 2009 and can seamlessly continue in the new permanent capacity.

“We are fortunate to now have Deslynne here on a permanent basis”, says Bertina Odendaal, Senior Librarian at NMMU in George. She commended Deslynne as a very dedicated and client-oriented employee who “always has a smile on her face”.

NMMU George lecturers visit Forestry Industry in KZN

A group of lecturers in Forestry and Wood Technology from NMMU’s George Campus at Saasveld thought it wise to leave the comfort of George and set out on a field trip to one of the epicentres of the forestry industry – Pietermaritzburg.

The NMMU George team included Prof Jos Louw, Director of the School of Natural Resource Management (NMMU Faculty of Science); lecturers Dr Jaap Steenkamp, Messrs Willie Louw, Tiaan Pool, Richard Muller, Andrew McEwan and Barry Muller.

This opportunity opened up when it was decided to schedule the annual NMMU Forestry and Wood Technology Advisory Committee meeting at MONDI’s head-office in Pietermaritzburg instead of hosting it in George prior to NMMU’s annual graduation ceremony in George.

The first visit was to Thornville Sawmill, part of the Tekwani Normandien Farm (Pty) Ltd, which is the largest privately owned sawmilling group inSouth Africa. That they have every reason to boast with their beautiful timber frame offices, as well as innovations imported from New Zealand, is evidenced by this photograph (Figure 1) which features a magnificent round table green-chain suited for medium size mills.

An overview of the company presented by the General Manager, Sean Hoatson, provided further evidence of a growing enterprise despite tough economic conditions.

Figure 1: Round table green-chain, Tekwani

The Advisory Committee meeting on day two of the visit was well attended by the local industrial role-players and decision makers. The feedback from NMMU to the committee proved valuable as some important issues were raised, amongst others relating to the growth of the Forestry and Wood Technology programmes and curriculums.   This good working relationship was reciprocated by members of the committee, representing industry, who updated NMMU on the challenges for the future forester.

Morning on day three took the team to infield mechanized harvesting operations near Howick where shovel yarding was used to extract pine saw-logs and a harvester (Figure 2) was used to fell, crosscut, de-branch and debark Eucalyptus nitens for pulpwood.

This visit underlined the range of skills that a forester must have to ensure success – from highly technical skills to people skills, all balanced with sound financial management.

Figure 2: The NMMU team at a tracked harvester

The MONDI staff at Howick nursery were keen to expose the NMMU team to their state of the art research nursery.  Sophisticated climate control systems (Figure 3) and seed harvesting operations were demonstrated by enthusiastic staff.

Figure 3: Lecturer, Richard Muller was visibly impressed with the automated climate controlled research nursery at MONDI, Howick.

Next on the itinerary was the Regional Fire Control Centre outside Howick. The manned control room (Figure 4) is equipped with state of the art weather data systems, linked to strategically placed camera systems that scout large areas of forestry and farmlands, serving as an early warning signal in detecting smoke and fire.  All of this is proof that the forestry industry is indeed leaders of innovation and community caretakers.

Figure 4: Mr Bobby Hoole, managing the fire control room at the Regional Fire Control Centre in Howick.

The last and equally impressive stop was Fires stop, a company that specialises in aerial fire fighting with water bomber planes.

The overriding sentiment as the inspired team touched down at George airport, was summarised as follows by lecturer, Barry Muller: “I once again realised how fortunate I am to be part of a team of dedicated staff who train professional Foresters and Wood Technologists for this exiting career. We are privileged to work with an industry that supports and guides our training so that we as lecturers can stay in tune with best practice and continue to deliver well-rounded professionals for the future”.

All photographs by Tiaan Pool

NMMU George Forestry lecturers return with valuable international experience

Willie Louw and Tiaan Pool, both lecturers in Forestry at NMMU’s George Campus at Saasveld, recently attended two forestry symposiums inAustralia.

The symposiums, ‘Precision Forestry in Advance’ and ‘Austimber 2012 Forestworks’ which had a practical precision forestry theme (‘Precision Forestry in Action’), covered the various aspects and techniques of the industry.

Making good use of the international trip, they also visited three forestry training institutions inAustraliaandNew Zealand; as well as a trip toTasmania– an important cog in the Australian forest industry.

To foster the relationships between professional colleagues, Louw and Pool visited the Creswick School of Forestry – a satellite campus of theUniversityofMelbourne, the Timber Training Creswick Centre – a private training institution; as well as the Waiariki Polytechnic inNew Zealand.

According to Pool, “Australiadoes not have a formal tertiary technical diploma qualification focusing on applied forestry science or wood technology that is comparable to the National Diploma programmes at NMMU George; this is one of the reasons why they so frequently and readily recruit foresters from NMMU/SA forestry industry.”

Both Pool and Louw were impressed with the setup atNew Zealand’s Waiariki Polytechnic.

Pool explained, “The Polytechnic receives excellent support from both the New Zealand Government and private industry.”

Waiariki has recently upgraded their facilities by building a well-designed modern forestry centre with class rooms and offices; as well as a new modern wood technology training centre with state of the art equipment and machinery.

“They have their own saw mill, kilns, saw doctor rooms with equipment, planers, CNC machines; as well as a modern separate office block,” said Pool.

The two rounded off their trip by visitingTasmaniawhere approximately 33% (1.5 million ha) of natural forests are managed for commercial use.

The natural forest is a huge tourist attraction and eco-tourism receives priority attention with the authorities managing the area.

According to Pool, “The Tahune ‘AirWalk’ is one of the special attractions in theHobartarea and leads visitors into the crowns of gigantic trees towering higher than 80m above the ground.”

Mini-reunion… Willie Louw and Tiaan Pool surrounded by former Forestry students from Saasveld now working inTasmania, (from left) Gary Button, Jacky Kirkwood, Murray Kirkwood, Louw, Pool and Wayne Shaw-Johnston.

Special attraction… the Tahune ‘AirWalk’ is a spectacular treetops walkway providing a birds-eye view of riverside rainforest and surrounding Tasmanian mountain ranges.

Via Afrika donates education books to NMMU George campus.

OnThursday, 19 April 2012NMMU George campus library received a generous donation of 49 school textbooks from Via Afrika. These books are intended for use by the BEd students within the Faculty of Education.

The books were received by Professor Patrick Bean, who is also the co-author of some of these books. There are many of the school subjects, with both a student and teacher copy for the same subject. The textbooks are for learners in grade 10, in both English and Afrikaans, together with some African languages. These books also come with CD’s on the back cover for the students to use. The layout proves to be very inviting and challenging, with many pictures, diagrams and items of interest.

“They are an excellent resource and we are very grateful to Via Afrika for their generous donation”, said Suz Phillips, the Education administrator. “The books are already in high demand by the students”, she further added.

NMMU George students are always encouraged to expand their knowledge through various media, and these books are only one source for this endless possibility of acquiring knowledge.

Photograph: NMMU Education students, Kevin Fuchs and Llewellyn van Greunen are joined by Branch Librarian Bertina Odendaal as they receive the books donated by Via Afrika.

Texas University science lecturers, students visit NMMU George

A group of 18 students and two lecturers from theTexasA & MUniversity’s Department Ecosystem Science and Management recently visited NMMU’s George Campus at Saasveld.

Their day at NMMU George included presentations by NMMU staff in the Faculty of Science. Topics included the following:

•The  geology, climatology and landscape ecology of theSouthern Capelandscape;

•An academic profile of NMMU’s campus in George;

•An overview of the forest industry of the region, and

•A presentation on the ‘Green Campus’ initiative at NMMU George by postgraduate students in the Faculty of Science.

After the presentations the American students were escorted on a short tour of the campus to showcase the classroom facilities, computer labs, the library and the student recreation centre.

The visit was concluded with lunch at the historic ‘Pampoenkraal’ building, now used as a conference venue and guest house on campus, where they had the opportunity to network with some of NMMU’s academic staff and postgraduate students.

A field trip to expose the American students to the most important vegetation biomes of the region concluded their day in George.

The campus visit formed part of the American students’ week-long stay in the southernCapewhich included a visit toThesenIslandto view its various ecosystems and presentations by representatives from SANParks about research on the Knysna Elephant and planning products of theGardenRouteNational Park.

Photograph: (by Aneri Vlok)

The group fromTexasA & MUniversitywith one of NMMU’s Faculty of Science lecturers, Mike Cameron, during their recent visit to the university’s George Campus at Saasveld.

NMMU George project showcased in Shanghai

The NMMU George Campus Student Mobilization Change project was selected as one of the top five projects from Africa and Asia to be showcased in Shanghai, China recently during the launch of the RIO +20 Global Universities Partnership on Environment and Sustainability (GUPES).

The top five submissions (one on each project) were captured in poster format.

The initiative forms part of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) International Training Programme (ITP). Feedback by Prof Heila Lotz Sisitka fromRhodesUniversitywho facilitated the SIDA ITP indicated that the submission of the set of posters had contributed to the adoption of the poster format as the preferred method of delivering the content of the projects.

The NMMU poster entitled – Student Mobilisation for Green Campus Development – together with the others submitted will be published in a publication of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) which is the “voice” for the environment in the United Nations system.

The George Campus Change Project originated from the challenge to promote student involvement in sustainability issues on the campus. This was achieved by strengthening and supporting of the student-driven society – the Green Campus Forum. This included the entity’s formal registration within the greater NMMU structure, capacity building for committee members and facilitating a close working relationship between the forum and operational management on the George Campus. These measures have been instrumental in large-scale growth of student membership of the Green Campus Forum and active support for sustainability efforts on campus.

 

 

Photograph: Participants in a Student Mobilization Indaba hosted at NMMU George Campus in the second half 2011. This event brought together three universities – NMMU, Rhodes andUppsalaUniversityinSwedenwith the aim of sharing ideas on student mobilization and a student response to education for sustainable development on campuses inSouth AfricaandSweden.

NMMU Students, Lions and Datadot Technologies join forces for a “greener” environment

Staff from Datadot Technologies, Lions (District 410D) and the student-driven Green Campus Forum atNelsonMandelaMetropolitanUniversity’s George campus joined forces to plant trees on the campus.

This was done in an effort to finish the green corridors on the campus that will connect the various forest patches so that smaller animals that inhabit this natural environment may find it easier and safer to cross.

For Datadot Technologies – a company intent on becoming increasingly responsive to the natural environment –  this initiative forms part of a much bigger project where they plan to plant 250 trees this year in an effort to offset their carbon footprint incurred in the previous year.

For the Lions this initiative contributed to their global target of a million trees planted for the year. They have already planted 8.6 million trees worldwide.

The event was a fun-filled family day with the children of Datadot and the Lions club representatives joining in and learning more about the importance of planting trees.

Photograph: NMMU students, representatives and family members of Datadot Technologies and Lions (District 410D) joined forces to plant trees at George Campus.

Soccer Trials 2012

The NMMU Madibaz Football Club will conduct trials for at the South Campus Soccer B & C fields:

· When: THURSDAY-23 FEBRUARY 2012

·Time: 17:00

· Where: South Campus B & C Soccer fields

Trialists must register on the day with the Head Coaches, Lukhanya Wasa (Males) and Douleen Whitebooi ( Females) or Sport Manager, Mark Tommy.

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