The Gauteng branch of the Southern African Institute of Forestry (SAIF) held its annual general meeting at the FABI Auditorium on July 29.

Gauteng SAIF members elected a new chairperson, Dr Steve Verryn, as well as new committee members including Prof. Bernard SlippersDr Brett Hurley and Ms Izette Greyling from FABI.

SAIF also honoured members who had served the association for 25 years and more. Recipients of the national Long Service Awards were: Dr Stuart Christie, Nico Erasmus, Neels Esterhuyse, Dr Coert Geldenhuys, Waldo Hinze, Paul Marwick, Pieter Odendaal, Meyer Pretorius, Eddie Schroeder, Art van der Dussen, Theunis van Rensburg, Fritz von Krosigk and Prof. Mike Wingfield.

Dr Phillip Frost of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) accepted the Continuous Service Excellence Award on behalf of the Earth Observation Group for their work in the development of Advanced Fire Information System (AFIS) and their contribution to fire management in afforested areas.

Director of the Albert Luthuli Centre for Responsible Leadership in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Prof. Derick de Jongh, delivered a lecture titled: "Responsible leadership: The bigger picture".

Prof de Jongh said responsible leadership in forestry meant finding interdisciplinary solutions with long-term effects that would also benefit future generations.

As an example, he pointed out climate change as a challenge to forestry and scientists that could not be addressed without considering population growth as the "elephant in the room" and its effects on food security.

He made the point that the conversation about leadership is framed in views of the past – who is to blame – and motivated why it should rather be framed in terms of the future – what is the future we want, and what do we need to do to get there. He also emphasized that this is a collective responsibility, and not the work of a ‘lone hero leader’ that we would hope to come along.

(Photo credits: Marc Raath)