As has become custom over the past few years, Duncan Ballantyne, Silviculture Development Manager at Sappi Forests in Ngodwana, recently brought a group of 15 Sappi foresters to visit FABI. The purpose of the visit was to expose the Sappi staff to the research and extention services that is done by team members of the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP). Sappi is one of the major member companies supporting the TPCP financially.

The group first visited the FABI Biological Control Centre and Research Nursery on the experimental farm, where Dr Wilhelm de Beer provided them with a brief background and overview of the research and extention services conducted in the TPCP. Marlene Harney, Samantha Bush and other staff members then gave them a tour of the biocontrol facilities with live exhibits of the pests and their biocontrol agents. The visitors then proceeded to FABI where Darryl Herron, Manager of the TPCP diagnostic clinic, showed the visitors how diseased tree samples that is sent to the TPCP are treated, from initial microscopic inspection, through the process of culturing the fungi and obtaining a DNA sequence for accurate diagnosis. 

From the enthusiastic response by the visitors and their positive feedback afterwards, it was clear that visits like these are essential to build a better understanding and relationship between the foresters in the field, and our researchers in the laboratory. We look forward to more of these collateral visits!