Forestry & Wood Science
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Postgraduate Students


​​​​​"We grow the people who grow the trees"

Prof Bigalke​



Adefemi A. Alade

Femi, as he is popularly called, hails from Ekiti State in Southwest Nigeria and is studying for a PhD in Wood Product Science. His research is focusing on formulation of effective natural product-based preservative from bio-wastes for wood protection. This is aimed at reducing health and environmental impacts associated with hazardous chemical wood preservatives. He is seeking to improve, through synergy and modification, the wood preserving potentials of lignin and extract from citrus fruit peel which are industrially generated as unwanted materials in the pulping process of paper making and fruit juice processing respectively.

Promotor: Dr Luvuyo Tyhoda


Abiodun O. Alawode

Abiodun is a Nigerian student from Oyo State and presently in the first year of his PhD research programme in Wood Product Science. His project focusses on the development of alternative wood adhesive from raw materials derived from renewable resources. The research work aims to extensively investigate the properties and potential use of Irvingia gabonensis and Irvingia wombolu extract as a complete green and cost effective wood adhesive with desirable bonding properties.

Promotor: Dr Luvuyo Tyhoda


Philip Crafford

Philip is from Worcester in Western Cape.  In the last decade Green Building has become synonymous with development. Buildings are responsible for about 33% of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions (Allwood et al. 2010), as construction and use of buildings involve high energy consumption/emissions, environmental pollution, and other environmental resource uses (UNEP 2009). There is no doubt the way future towns and cities are developed will be a key to moving closer to environmental sustainability on earth. There are various ways to evaluate or measure the environmental sustainability of buildings. His work research focus on 'Measuring environmental sustainability of buildings in South Africa with a focus on timber building systems'

Promotor: Dr Brand Wessels


Cláudio Cuaranhua

Cláudio Cuaranhua is a Mozambican born in the north central Province of Zambézia. He's a forest engineer from the Eduardo Mondlane University and holds an MSc in Forestry from Federal University of Paraná in Brazil.  Works as a Research Assistant and Forest Manager at the Machipanda Agroforestry Center (Cefloma) since 2005.

The current Cuaranhua's bourne is to complete his Ph.D in Forestry and Resource Management in the field of Growth and Yield Modelling. His research focuses on improving the forest growth model, 3-PG for the capability to simulate irregular stands of Eucalyptus grandis x urophylla hybrid along a water supply gradient in Zululand. This Ph.D research is funded by SASSCAL through the Department of Forest and Wood Science, Stellenbosch University.

Promoters: Prof. Thomas Seifert, Prof. Ben du Toit (SUn) and Dr. Mark Gush (CSIR- Natural Resources & Environment Unit)



Dean da Costa

Dean is born in Bulowayo, Zimbambwe and moved to South Africa in 1982.  He is the son of a Portuguese Father and mother of South African Irish origins.  He attended Saasveld Forestry College from 1983 to 1985 and completed a diploma in Horticulture (Technikon RSA) and BSc. (UNISA). He obtained a MSc. on hydroponic systems in forestry nurseries at the University of Natal.  He then spent 34 years in the employment of Mondi where he now acts as Silviculture Technical Manager.  He enjoys reading military history and have a great interest in horticulture in its many forms and also has an interest in classic cars and aircraft.

The title of his dissertation is: The Interaction Between Site, Harvest Residue Management And Plant Stock Quality On Eucalyptus Transplant Survival, Growth And Uniformity In Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa.

Promotor: Prof Ben du Toit


Justin Erasmus

Justin, born and raised in Cape Town, completed his BSc and MSc in the field of Wood Science. He is now subsequently taking on his PhD which aims to develop a modelling framework that links the mechanical properties of lumber back to the growth processes of a tree. The outcome of this study will enhance our understanding of wood formation processes and assist in forest management decision-making.

 Promotors:  Dr Brand Wessels and Dr David Drew


Phillip Fischer

Phillip is currently based in Ngodwana, a small town situated in the Elands valley approximately 40km outside of Mbombela. Born and raised on the Mpumalanga Highveld, after which he took a few gap years and worked in Europe. Completed his BSc and MSc degrees at Stellenbosch University before taking up his current position as Land Management Research Officer with Sappi Forests.

His work focusses on understanding how commercial forestry clones grow and interact under competition conditions and how that interaction influences final yields obtained in plantations.

Promotor: Dr David Drew


Chrispin Kambani-Banda

Chrispin Kambani Banda is from Malawi and lectures at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. He is currently studying for a  PhD in Forestry and Natural Resources Management Science and his research focus on the Dynamics of governance in the Nyika Transfrontier Conservation Areas in Nothern Malawi. The objective is to investigate the extent to which the existing governance regime for Nyika TFCA enhances local participation and sustainable nature conservation.

Supervisor: Prof M Jacobson and Prof P Chirwa.


Ian Kotze 

Currently based in Stellenbosch and employed by the Agricultural Research Council's Institute for Soil, Climate and Water. Completed my BSc degree in silviculture and MSc degree in Nature Conservation at Stellenbosch University.

My work focusses on large scale vegetation surveys with the emphasis on invasive alien plants.

Promotor: Prof Thomas Seifert



Werner Mbongo _ Picture 06_2017_SU.jpg

Werner Mbongo

Werner is a Namibian citizen and has a first degree in Forestry from the University of Namibia. Werner obtained a Master's degree (MSc.) in Forest Ecology and Management from Freiburg University, Germany (2006-2008).

Werner has worked for and with the Namibian Directorate of Forestry since 2001, among others, facilitating and supporting the establishment of community forests. Werner has also worked with the German International Development Agency (GIZ) as a Forest Expertise Resource Person, Researcher and Technical Expert, in the projects: 1) Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Management and 2) Integrated Water Resources Management, of the in collaboration with the Namibian Ministries of Environment & Tourism; and Agriculture, Water & Forestry (2007-2010). Werner has been working as a Research Assistant at the Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden, since 2011.

Werner's PhD project focuses on improved understanding of growth dynamics of the Zambezian-Baikiaea woodlands, with particular focus on Burkea africana and Pterocarpus angolensis. The aim is to study growth increments and regeneration responses of Zambezian-Baikiaea woodlands to silvicultural interventions, mainly thinning, through field experiments established in Namibia at Kanovlei and Hamoye State Forests and Okongo Community Forest. The project strives to understand how forest stand growth and regeneration in the Zambezian-Baikiaea woodlands vary by stand densities along thinning intensity gradients. Werner's PhD project receives partial financing from SASSCAL through the Department of Forest and Wood Science, Stellenbosch University.

Supervisors: Prof. Ben du Toit and Prof. Magnus Löf (Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre)

Munalula1.pngFrancis Munalula


Francis Munalula from Zambia works for the Copperbelt University and is passionate about wood.

He is currently busy with his PhD in wood anatomical studies of selected Zambian hardwood species and their response to changing climatic conditions.  The objective is to test the extent to which climate variables related to precipitation (water availability) and temperature govern tree growth and wood anatomy.


Promotor: Prof Martina Meincken


Sinazo Njamela 

Sinazo was born and bred in a small town of Eastern Cape called Middledrift.  She has a BSc and BSc Honours in Chemistry from Fort Hare University. She obtained her MSc in Wood Product Science from Stellenbosch University. She is currently working for Sappi based at Sappi Saiccor – Umkomaas doing her PhD studies part-time. The study focuses on improving the current reactivity test methods. The study will therefore provide novelty of why the reactivity test methods give differences on various dissolving pulps. This will also assist in determining the correlation between the quick reactivity test methods, the standard viscose reactivity assessment and the dissolving pulps.

Promotors: Dr. L. Tyhoda and Dr. Tracy Wessels from Sappi (Industrial Project Supervisor).


Olayiwola Hamed Olafiku

Olayiwola Hamed Olafiku is from the largest city in West Africa, Ibadan, Nigeria. He had his B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in Wood Products Engineering from the premier university in Nigeria, University of Ibadan. His quest for finding alternative green materials to the conventional building materials led him to the Ph.D degree programme of the prestigious Stellenbosch University in Wood Product Science. The use of the conventional construction materials are highly energy intensive and processes involved in their manufacture lead to emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs) that add to the global carbon footprint. His research focuses on the development of low cost building materials by incorporating wood fibres (from alien invasive wood species) and agricultural crop residues into geopolymeric matrices developed from various industrial wastes.

Promotor: Dr. Luvuyo Tyhoda


GP Scheepers


GP is a South African student from Mpumalanga and presently in the 2nd year of doing his PhD in Forestry and Resource Management. His project focusses on pine (softwood) fertilisation and canopy development. The project aims to use the documented fertiliser responses from a series of NP fertiliser combinations, on several soils and different growing conditions, to determine site-specific fertiliser recommendations for optimum stand productivity.


Promotor: Prof. Ben du Toit

Uisso.pngAmani J Uisso 

Amani is a Tanzanian researcher with a BSc and MSc in Natural Resources Assessment and Management from the University of Dar es Salaam. His research focuses on the linkage between village participatory land-use planning, forest management and conservation measure under "Reduced Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation" (REDD+). This research will contribute to the better understanding of how community perceptions and participation can be harnessed to ensure the sustainability of the REDD+ initiatives and associated non-carbon benefits in the Kilosa District of Tanzania.

Promoters: Prof Paxie W. Chirwa and Dr Pierre Ackerman


Haile Wale

Haile is an Ethiopian student from Ethiopia Institute of Agricultural Research. Currently, he is the second year of doing his PhD in Forestry and Resource Management. His project focuses on ecological pattern and dynamics of afromontane forests in Northern Ethiopia. The project will help to recommend on ecological and management options at species, community and forest levels, for afromontane forests of this biogeographical area.

Promotor: Prof. Coert Geldenhuys




Michael Dugmore

Michael comes from a farm near Kimberley in the Northern Cape. He loves the farm and the outdoors and enjoying God's creation.

His MSc study explores the potential of using Eucalyptus to manufacture Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), with the idea of possibly using CLT for low cost housing.

Supervisor: Dr. Brand Wessels


Nkosinamandla Artwel Sizwe Gonya 

Nkosinamandla is from Kwa-Zulu Natal (Estcourt).  He obtained a BSc degree in Wood and Wood Products Science in 2016 at Stellenbosch University, currently doing MSc in the same field.

Topic of Research: Profiling the shrinkage and collapse of Eucalptus grandis across the tree trunk and height-wise, and their relationship to the basic tree and wood properties.

We hope to solve the shrinkage and collapse (dimensional instability) experienced in Eucalyptus grandis after drying by grouping boards from parts with more similar properties in the tree stem, hence being able to use this fast growing wood for structural purposes. 

Supervisor:  Dr Brand Wessels


Daniel Graham 

Daniel grew up in small town called Vryheid in Northern Natal. He completed his undergraduate studies at Stellenbosch University in 2015 and is currently in his 2nd year of MSc.

His project is a cost-benefit analysis of the silviculture value chain in coastal Zululand. The main focus of the study is to investigate the impact silviculture activities have on volume production in order to determine the financial benefit of these activities. The study is based on real historical values, which makes it unique and responsible for some interesting challenges.

Supervisor: Mr Cori Ham


Hleni Heita

Hleni Heita is from North- western Namibia, an MSc student in Forestry Science at Stellenbosch University.

Her MSc Research Topic is looking at propagation of selected indigenous species of Namibia using tissue culture techniques. Given the increase in unsustainable harvest of indigenous species in our forests/ woodlands, the study investigates the potential of germinating indigenous trees using tissue culture, and further develop protocols on alternative germination techniques of a variety of threatened plants.

Supervisor: Ms Hannel Ham



Martin Kambayi


Martin is an MSc Forestry student from Zambia. He has been working in Zambia for over 20 years covering government, private and Non-governmental sectors.

He is currently doing Consultancy as Technical Advisor with Indufor, a Finnish company, hired to implement the Decentralised Forests and other Natural Resources Management Programme. He supports project operations in Mwinilunga and Ikelenge districts in North-western Province, Zambia.   This 3-year project is aimed at reducing poverty and gender inequality and improve the environment in its areas of operation by facilitating the process of devolving controlling rights of selected forests from central government to local communities.

Supervisor: Prof. Ben du Toit

Hugo1.pngHugo Lambrechts


Hugo is from Tulbagh in the Western Cape. He did his undergraduate studies at Stellenbosch University and then worked at Sappi SA in KZN for 5 years. Love to travel.

His project focuses is on the potential of Eucalyptus hybrids in the semi-arid Western Cape. The aim of the project is to see if Eucalyptus hybrids have the potential to grow better than the current species planted for poles and shelter belts / wind breaks, how well these hybrids coppice and what the viability of pole production is from these Eucalyptus hybrid stands are. 

Supervisor: Prof. Ben du Toit

JacquesMalan.jpgJacques Malan

Sthee Malinga

Sithembile is from KwaZulu Natal province in a small town of Jozini. She is currently in her 1st year studying for an MSc. Because of her love for genetics her research focuses on the genetic control of cold hardiness in the hybrids of P.patula X P.tecunumannii (both low and high  elevation families) produced via controlled pollination. Based on these results she will have to determine the best breeding strategy for future hybrid breeding programmes

Supervisor: Ms. Hannel Ham and Dr. Andre Nel


Lehlohonolo Mngomezulu

Lehlohonolo Mngomezulu is originally from Lesotho. He is presently in second year of masters research in wood product science.

His research is extensively investigating the influence of filler materials on the properties of phosphate bonded composites panels.

Supervisor: Dr Luvuyo Tyhoda


LebogangMphalele.jpgLebogang Mphahlele

Paul Mwansa

Paul is from the Mwinilunga District in Zambia. He is doing his first year in the programme for MSc Forestry and Natural Resources. His work is to investige the effect of fire disturbance on natural regeneration of Miombo wood species along a rainfall gradient from Zambia to Namibia. The study will be conducted in the state forests of Namibia and Zambia.

Supervisor: Prof. Ben du Toit​



Mulalo Charmaine Munarini

Mulalo Charmaine Munarini was born in the royal land of Vhavenda in Limpopo province then moved to Cape Town in 2014.

She is currently doing her MSc in forestry and wood science. Her research focuses on a conceptual framework for environmental services payments in South African plantation forests: An NCT case study.

Supervisor:  Mr Cori Ham


Ashlee Prins

Ashlee was born and raised up in Cape Town. 

She completed her BSc in Wood Products Science and is currently busy with her MSc. Her study aims at identifying non-destructive prediction methods for evaluating certain Eucalyptus properties and traits at an early age. The purpose of this research is for potential application in tree breeding programs.

Supervisor:  Dr Brand Wessels.


Custon Rugare

Custon is from Buhera District in Zimbabwe and currently doing MSc in Forest Engineering.

The number of mechanised CTL harvesting operations are rapidly increasing in South Africa.  Being a relatively new phenomena and a significant departure from motor-manual operations of the past it is important to understand the contribution of machine costs and productivity to the overall success of mechanisation initiatives.  Ratio's such as availability and utilisation are largely unknown or a best poorly understood.  The same applies to repair and maintenance costs along with the costs of running gear.  This research uses long term operational records and machine computer systems to provide base information for the calculation of benchmark information which machine owners can use to potentially validate their data being use in day to day operations.   

Supervisors: Dr Pierre Ackerman and Mr Simon Ackerman


Daniel D Seboa

Daniel is a South African student born and raised in a township called Bekkersdal situated west of Johannesburg in Gauteng. He completed his 4-year degree at Stellenbosch University and is currently doing his MSc in Forest and Wood Science.   is to investigate the impact of commercial forestry results of trials in Zululand and to simulate their impact. Furthermore, to quantify costs and returns of trial results and recommend the most cost efficient and effective operating practices. 

Supervisor: Mr Cori Ham


Siviwe Mlamli Soludongwe

Siviwe was born in the royal land of Lipode, Mthatha and raised in East London, Eastern Cape. He is currently a first year MSc Forestry & Wood science student.

His research will focus on the manufacture of wood composite products using bio based adhesives as well as low carbon footprint inorganic binders. Hence, he's passion for pandas and an eco-friendly environment.

Supervisor: Dr Luvuyo Tyhoda


Johan Stephan

Johan grew up on a farm, about 60km north of a small town in the Western Cape called Piketberg. His family farms potatoes in this region, locally referred to as the Sandveld for its immensely sandy soils. Growing up he became quite passionate about the Agricultural industry and therefore decided to pursue a career in Agriculture. He finished his undergrad at the University of Stellenbosch, graduating with a B.Sc. in Soil Science and Agronomy end of 2016.

He is currently studying the decomposition of woody root systems in Eucalyptus plantations to help better understand the rate at which these root systems lose carbon over time and the factors governing this process.

Supervisors: Prof Ben du Toit and Dr. David Drew

Marius Terblanche.jpg

Marius Terblanche

Marius is from the town of Sedgefield in the Southern Cape where his family owns a forests harvesting and transport company. After initially studying a BSc in Sport Science he decided to switch to forestry and completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Forestry and Wood Science in 2017. He is currently busy with an MSc in Forest Engineering where he is working on harvester head calibration and implementing bark deduction methods for under bark volume determination for Pinus Patula. He aims to improve data quality from the harvester heads in order for it to be used further down the value chain.

Supervisors: Prof Pierre Ackerman and Mr Simon Ackerman


Vhuhwavho Tshavhungwe

Vhuhwavho Tshavhungwe was born and raised in Venda in the Limpopo province. She first learnt about forestry and wood science as something people study when she applied to do a learnership with Komatiland forests for her gap year in 2012. From that moment onwards it made sense to her why there are all those pine and eucalyptus trees planted along the road where she come from. She came to Stellenbosch University in 2013.  She loves studying wood science because the degree is structured in such a way that it incorporates both wood science and industrial engineering concepts. 

She is currently on her 1st year of masters and will be investigating the wood property variation of sawn timber, particularly those properties used in the grading of timber.  Datasets with the relevant information will be collected from sawmill(s). Statistical quality control techniques will be implemented in the project.

Supervisor: Dr Brand Wessels

TrevorVanGroeningen.jpgTrevor van Groeningen



Benjamin van Heerden

His fascination with forestry started when Benjamin was still a little boy living in Hazyview, where the surrounding plantations filled him with wonder. Although he moved around a lot as a child the memory of those plantations remained with him and eventually led him to study forestry. "In all honesty, I knew very little about the industry when I arrived at Stellenbosch as a first year forestry student in 2013, but the more I learned, the more my passion for forestry grew." He finished his undergraduate studies in 2016.  His postgraduate study focuses on developing a model for carbon allocation in the roots of coppiced Eucalypts which will give insight into the carbon sequestration potential of these trees.

Supervisors: Prof. Ben du Toit and Dr Dave Drew


Philip van Niekerk

Philip is a South African student from George in the Southern Cape and presently in the first year of doing his MSc in growth and yield science. He finished his undergraduate studies in Wood Product Science at Stellenbosch in 2015. He decided to do his postgraduate studies in forestry to bridge the gap between raw material and product by understanding the entire wood supply chain. His project focuses on creating allometric equations/models to predict above ground biomass of Eucalyptus grandis x nitens. Furthermore, he will look at the nutrient properties and the carbon sequestration potential of the Eucalyptus specie. 

Supervisor: Dr Dave Drew and Prof. Ben du Toit


Roland Wenhold

Roland is currently busy with his Msc degree in Forest Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch. He was born in Rustenburg in the North West province and grew up on a farm in Swartruggens. As a farm boy he always loved nature and agriculture. In 2012 he started his studies at Stellenbosch University in BSc Forestry. He is an outdoor person with an out-going personality and have a natural aptitude for nature, trees and the environment. He is a self-confident communicator, with a strong ability to do several tasks at the same time.

The main objective of his study is to determine machine operator learning curves on newly installed harvesting operations from inception to maturity. Under South African conditions the learning curve for modern harvester operators are unknown and this opportunity to do so makes this study significant. By integrating operator data, machine data and productivity information, will enable a holistic view of the life cycle of a greenfields (new and first time) mechanisation projects in the South African forestry industry. This study will also be applicable for companies and contractors interested in using modern purpose built harvesters.

Supervisor: Dr. Pierre Ackerman


Francis Zhanngazha

Francis is a Forestry management professional with widespread experience and exposure in Silviculture and environmental management. Based in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, Francis is currently busy with an MSc research on growth and wood qualities in altered thinning regimes. The research seeks to explore the pruning-thinning interactions in altered Pinus patula thinning regimes

Supervisor: Prof. Ben du Toit and Dr Brand Wessels