University of Stellenbosch

Dr Hans Merensky was the leader in establishing agricultural schools in southern Africa and made it possible for the University of Stellenbosch to create a Forestry faculty, which greatly boosted the large-scale forestry industry in South Africa.  The Foundation has been awarding bursaries to students at the University of Stellenbosch since 1993, with a host of recipients receiving support to conduct their studies, their research generally focussed in one of two main focus areas:

  • Wood mechanical property modelling and optimisation; and/or
  • Sawmill processing simulation and optimisation.

Currently Funded Projects:  Green Buildings and Pine Spacing

The programme is divided into four interlinked projects.

Project 1

Improving the value yield from the lumber value chain. New sawlog plantation management regimes for South African Pine. The main objective of the project is developing a basic understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the changes in wood properties of pine grown under different…

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Project 2

Green building with wood.  This project focus on evaluating the environmental impact of wood buildings in South Africa compared to alternative building materials.  The project started in 2014.  In 2017, one student (Phillip Crawford, PhD year 2) is supported by the Foundation.  A paper entitled…

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Project 3

Green gluing of eucalyptus lumber. Eucalyptus trees are rarely processed into structural lumber mainly due to processing problems associated with dimensional stability and splitting of the wood. A new method to produce structural building products from young eucalyptus trees…

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Project 4

Non-destructive testing on standing E. grandis trees for wood quality.  The objective of this new project is to identify potential non-destructive prediction tools and methodologies of E. grandis that can be used to estimate the following properties at a relatively early age…

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Project 1: Improving the value yield from the sawn lumber value chain: New sawlog plantation management regimes for SA Pine

The main objective of the project is developing a basic understanding of the underlying mechanisms responsible for the changes in wood properties of pine grown under different competitive environments. Also to model and understand the economic and production consequences of different saw log management regimes. The following actions are planned for 2017:

For 2017, the PhD study of Justin Erasmus will involve (1) the modelling of stiffness (MOE) of Pinus patula lumber, and (2) modelling cambial cell development of Pinus patula with a focus on identifying the drivers of variation in MFA and also density. Both these models will rely heavily on data obtained from Silviscan measurements done at the University of Melbourne, Australia. We will attempt to develop a better understanding of how a tree’s mechanical requirements influence cell development. Experimental material was/will be obtained from a spacing trial from Mpumalanga and greenhouse trials of P. patula, P. elliottii X caribaea, and P. patula x tecunumanii. The MSc study of Francis Zhangazha will analyse the effect of an altered thinning and pruning regime on some wood properties of Pinus patula using sample material from the KZN area. An MSc project by Ryan Charlton will use growth and manufacturing process modelling of Pinus patula to develop an economic model which can be used to assess different forest management options for Pinus patula. The full value chain from plant to final product will be included in the model. A sensitivity analyses will also be completed to identify the areas in the value chain with the best potential for increases in financial returns. MSc student Vhuvhavho Tshavungwe will analyse the effect of MOE variability of lumber on sawmill production planning and product properties.

Expected outputs for 2017
MSc degrees for Zhangazha and Charlton.  Three peer-reviewed journal papers (all has already been accepted for publication subject to revisions). One conference presentation. One poster at conference.

Project 2: Green building with wood

This project focus on evaluating the environmental impact of wood in buildings in South Africa compared to alternative building materials. In 2017 PhD student Phillip Crafford will complete a regional timber supply and demand study to analyse possible sources of timber building materials over the next two decades (including SADC countries and imported lumber). Issues that might influence supply and demand such as product and market replacement, economic growth rate, and processing efficiency will be investigated. A life cycle assessment will evaluate the effect of importing lumber compared to locally grown lumber from both South Africa and SADC countries.

Expected outputs for 2017
PhD degree for Crafford.  Submit 2 papers to peer-reviewed journals.

Project 3: Green gluing of eucalyptus lumber

This project investigates the basic concept of green gluing of Eucalyptus grandis lumber and the manufacture of various products from it. MSc student Michael Dugmore will complete a study on the delamination behaviour and testing methods for delamination in E. grandis cross-laminated timber (CLT) in co-operation with IVALSA from Italy. MSc student Sizwe Gonya will begin experiments to quantify and predict the shrinkage behaviour of E. grandis in order to optimise processing into laminated and cross-laminated products.

Expected outputs for 2017
MSc degree for Dugmore. Submit 1 paper to a peer-reviewed journal. One conference presentation.

Project 4: Non-destructive testing on standing E. grandis trees for wood quality

The objective of this new project is to identify potential non-destructive prediction tools and methodologies on Eucalyptus grandis that can be used to estimate the following properties at a relatively early age: splitting, dimensional stability, brittle heart, collapse, density and density gradient. This is especially important for early selection of superior genetic material for tree breeding purposes. MSc student Ashlee Prins will begin an MSc study on this issue and complete a literature survey, project proposal and initial experimental work.