Forestry in South Africa
Friday, September 18, 2020

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Research : FABI

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FABI was established in 1997, based on a recognition that the future of Forestry and Agriculture in South Africa will depend strongly on the incorporation of new technologies into these industries. Opportunities for Forestry and Agriculture that have emerged in recent times from the application of biotechnology and bioinformatics are immense, and almost beyond imagination. Currently, forestry and food crops containing novel genes are already being deployed world-wide. Well recognised examples include the incorporation of genes conferring herbicide and pest resistance to plants. Other products are also appearing increasingly rapidly and this trend will not slow in coming years. The rapid developments in genomics and the many full genome sequences that are emerging will certainly facilitate the development of novel food and fibre crops. These will clearly contribute to global economic development and food security.

Remaining competitive with products that are internationally attractive will, in all likelihood, become progressively more important to South African Forestry and Agriculture in the future. The objectives of FABI are to assist this sector of the local economy, to meet these goals. This is achieved through goal directed research undertaken in partnership with major players in these markets. Being based at a University affords FABI the capacity to build future human resources in biotechnology, which will be crucial to the future of Forestry and Agriculture in South Africa. A base at the University of Pretoria enables FABI to enjoy collaboration and linkage with the majority of statutory bodies undertaking research in the plant and animal sciences. Added value comes from training grants, participation of students in research programmes and an enormous human and technological resource associated with the University in South Africa.

Track Record

FABI was established on the foundation of the highly successful and internationally acclaimed Tree Protection Co-operative Programme (TPCP). This programme, initiated in 1990, has supported South African Forestry for more than a decade and has become an Institution of that industry. The TPCP provides the entire forestry industry of South Africa with support in the field of tree health, and more particularly Forest Pathology and Forest Entomology. The group includes projects not only in South Africa, but in other parts of Africa, South America, South East Asia, Europe, Australia and North America.

The Staff of the University of Pretoria linked to FABI have also had long term associations with the Citrus and Subtropical Fruit industries as well as other programmes linked to Agricultural crops. Although formally only in existence since 1997, FABI is by no means an emerging new venture, but rather an amalgamation of a tremendous base of expertise in Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology.

FABI has grown rapidly since its establishment. At the end of 2005, the Institute included approximately 180 participants. The group is made up of approximately 15 academic staff, 100 post graduate (M.Sc., Ph.D.) students, post doctoral fellows, research visitors and a small core of support staff. Approximately 30 languages are spoken by members of the FABI team, which is a remarkably multinational and multicultural group.


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