The Department of Forest and Wood Science has formed a strategic and fully funded partnership with SAPPI, Mondi and York through the formation of a specialised Forestry Operations Research Unit (FOR). It is headed by Simon Ackerman, former research scientist at the Institute for Commercial Forestry Research. Ackerman is a widely respected researcher and brings an extensive research network to FOR and the industry which will be to the benefit of all the industry partners. FOR became an entity as from the beginning of July last year and will be part of the Forest Engineering/Operations discipline in the Department of Forest and Wood Science.
FOR will concentrate on high level research and will complement SU's long-standing collaboration with the Forestry Industry. It will take advantage of new disruptive technologies and analytical methodologies, in the form of “Big Data analytics," to aid decision making within the forestry supply chain.
FOR's main objectives include research on compartment characterisation and the effect on end of rotation processes and the forestry value chain; fulfilling the role as South African co-ordinator at the EU 2020 Tech4Effect initiative and maintaining the partnership with NIBIO through the project, and continuing to contribute to the management and execution of the productivity improvement initiative developed by SU in 2015. FOR will also serve as a resource base for testing trending technology and techniques, and will address shorter-term research questions from industry partners.