A group of eminent international researchers attending the Tree Protection Cooperative Programme (TPCP) annual meeting and symposium joined FABI’s Prof. Jolanda Roux, Dr Brett Hurley and Izette Greyling on a field trip to the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Provinces to learn more about the plantation forestry industry in South Africa and the associated challenge posed by pests and pathogens. 

The visitors, from Africa, Europe and North and South America, were shown, first-hand, tree breeding and research programmes, field trials as well as several of the pest and disease problems that industry and the TPCP research group deals with.  

Starting off in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, the group was given an overview of the commercial forestry industry at the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research (ICFR) by the Director, Prof. Colin Dyer

A visit to Mondi in Kwambonambi gave the group an overview of the forestry company and its activities, as well as its Eucalyptus tree breeding programme. The tour concluded with a visit to their Eucalyptus cutting nursery and plantations.

Pests and pathogens seen in the field include the bronze bug (Thaumastocoris peregrinus), cossid moth (Coryphodema tristis), Eucalyptus gall wasp (Leptocybe invasa), Eucalyptus weevil (Gonipterus sp.), red gum lerp psyllid (Glycaspis brimblecombei), Sirex wood wasp (Sirex noctilio), the Acacia rust as well as the recently described rust on Eucalyptus, Phakopsora myrtacearum.

Some time was taken from the busy schedule to visit the Hluhluwe Game Reserve to give the visitors a rest and an opportunity to see the Big 5 in the wild.