South Africa is a world leader in the forest products industry and this industry contributes significantly to the country's economy. Challenges to the industry's future include land reform, water use, global competition, regulations, outsourcing and privatisation (the decreased role of government in forest management). These issues impact forestry skills, jobs and education. As part of the Department of Forest and Wood Science's curriculum revision at Stellenbosch University, a survey was sent to forest industry representatives to better understand the transition in forestry and what is expected from upcoming forestry graduates, specifically in business and economic-related studies. Major issues that surfaced included skill shortages, timber supply constraints and land/legal issues. The most important skills lacking in future foresters were people and business management skills. The survey results confirm that, although forest managers still need a core technical toolbox, they are also required to address multiple issues and require a broader ‘package' of skills.
Keywords: business; economics; forest education; forest management; South African forest industry; survey instrument
Southern Forests 2008, 70(3): 269–274