Prof Mike Wingfield, Director of the Forestry and Agricultural Biotechnology Institute (FABI) in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Pretoria, and President of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO), recently received the Chinese Government Friendship Award for 2017.
The award was presented to Prof Wingfield to acknowledge his 20 years of collaboration with Chinese colleagues in the field of tree health. This has for example led to the establishment of a formal Tree Health Programme with the China Eucalyptus Research Centre (Chinese Academy of Forestry) and FABI, known as the CERC/FABI Tree Protection Programme (CFTPP).
The CFTPP has and continues to produce extensive research outputs on tree disease and insect problems in natural forests and plantations in China and elsewhere in the world. This collaboration has also provided opportunities for many Chinese and South African students to complete postgraduate degrees in the tree health field. The Chinese Government Friendship Award was presented to Prof Wingfield at a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People by Chinese Vice-Premier Ma Kai and this was followed by a gala event hosted by Chinese Premier His Excellency Li Keqiang.
Prof Wingfield's visit to China also provided an opportunity to meet with various colleagues with close ties to IUFRO. These included meetings with Dr Shirong Liu, Vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Forestry and IUFRO President's nominee and member of the Board of IUFRO, together with his staff; Mr Zhao Shucong, Chair of the Board of APFNet with which IUFRO has signed an MOU; Mr Peng YouDong, Vice Administrator of the State Forestry Administration and his colleagues; Mr Li ZhiYoung, Vice Executive Director of INBAR (International Bamboo and Rattan society and his colleagues as well as Dr ShuaiFei Chen, Extraordinary Staff member of FABI who provided Prof Wingfield with support and who brought prospective new CERC/FABI students from ZhangJiang to discuss future research projects.