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.

Supervisor: Dr Luvuyo Tyhoda


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.

Supervisors: 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.

Supervisor: 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.

 Supervisors:  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.

Supervisor: 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.

Supervisor: Prof Thomas Seifert



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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)


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.

Supervisors: 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.

Supervisor: Dr. Luvuyo Tyhoda

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.

Supervisors: Prof Paxie W. Chirwa and Dr Pierre Ackerman




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

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Jesse Favis 

Supervisor: Dr Brand Wessels


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


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​


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

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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​