Members of the Tree Protection Co-operative Programme(TPCP) met at the Future Africa campus on 17 January for a briefing on developments affecting the management and work done in the programme in 2019. The session followed two days of discussions by research leaders in the TPCP on issues affecting students and staff and formulating strategy for the coming months. The TPCP will host its 30th annual meeting in May, a milestone that TPCP and FABI Director Professor Bernard Slippers attributed to its ongoing partnership with major players in the forestry industry and the expertise of the researchers in the programme.

DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Tree Health Biotechnolgy (CTHB) Director Prof Emma Steenkamp revealed that the CTHB, which hitherto was dedicated to research on indigenous tree species, would expand its research scope to include agricultural crops. She explained that this would result in an increase in the number of students using the FABI building and its facilities. Prof Brenda Wingfield encouraged students to apply for bursaries and other funding opportunities and to be inspired by the cash rewards that come with being published in high impact journals. Other research leaders discussed issues such as work-study bursaries, safety in the labs and on field trips, presenting research at local and international conferences as well as the honing of soft skills such as time management, conflict management and budgeting while students complete their degrees. Staff and students also presented on changes and improvements they would like to see in their working environment.