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July : Appointment of a new ICFR Research Manager, Dr Andrew Morris

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4 July, 2013

Appointment of a new ICFR Research Manager, Dr Andrew Morris - Institute for Commercial Forestry Research

The ICFR is very happy to announce that Dr Andrew Morris has joined us from 1 July 2013 as our new Research Manager. Andrew brings to the ICFR a wealth of experience in research management and knowledge of the industry from his previous position as Sappi's General Manager Research.

Andrew has both BSc(Hons) Soil Science and PhD degrees from University of Reading.  Prior to joining the ICFR, Andrew spent 16 years with Sappi Forests (1997-2013) as the General Manager Research, and before this he worked for the Usutu Pulp Company in Swaziland (1979-1997), first as Research Officer and then Forest Research Manager.

Andrew feels that there are three things excite him about his new role at the ICFR;

  • "A move from general management to research management will allow me to focus more on applied science where my interest and, I think, value is best realised;
  • The opportunity to work with the dedicated, enthusiastic and professional staff at the ICFR;
  • The industry is undergoing many major changes and the challenges these present to forestry research are an exciting opportunity."

Dr Andrew Morris

Dr. Andrew Morris

We asked Andrew what he thought the biggest challenges are facing the ICFR.

"Industrial wood plantations support an important part of the economy in southern Africa and are a key livelihood for many families.  Broader participation in this section of the economy will increase the importance of forestry in southern Africa, especially as a component of rural development.  Whilst internationally the supply of wood from sustainable plantations is an increasingly important resource, the local industry faces challenges to remain globally competitive.  In response to this there is rapid modernisation of timber production practices in the industry. There is also a need to ensure emerging new timber growers are as well equipped with the best current forestry knowledge as existing growers.  Global climate change and the continued arrival of new pests and diseases compel yet more change in forestry practice if we are to remain sustainable.  So the challenge facing the ICFR is to support the large but necessary changes in forestry practice with timeous and relevant recommendations that will allow the sector to continue to flourish founded on a wood supply that is sustainable well into the future.  For me this challenge is an exciting opportunity for good and applied forest science to add value to society."

Andrew believes the ICFR is poised to deliver important and highly relevant knowledge into a fast changing industry, and at the same time, serve a wider scope of ‘customers'.  In the short term, existing good research must deliver value adding recommendations, and in the longer term, new research must begin that will continue to add value to our stakeholders.

Working in a research environment presents a range of challenges and opportunities. We asked Andrew what were his recommendations or advice to anyone working in this field.

"If research is your passion and your field of science is relevant (and this is almost anything!) then forestry offers the chance to work in an outdoor ‘laboratory' (at least some of the time) and opportunity to travel to some exotic destination - and so may well provide an ideal career.  Embarking on such a career my advice would be to collaborate where ever possible.  Seek advice and direction from experts and combine your work with that of peers to produce the best and most useful research.  My own career has been punctuated with many such interactions and these have produced the most satisfying results and good friendships along the way."

When not actively pursuing ways to shape and develop the research at the ICFR, Andrew, once a keen footballer and squash player, enjoys a more spectator interest in sport, which consumes much of his free time He finds music and books a good way to relax in between West Ham fixtures (which are not always a good way to relax), and  enjoys travelling (almost as much as his wife Belcy).

Andrew can be contacted at Andrew.morris@icfr.ukzn.ac.za

Contact: ICFR

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