Forests play a vital role in ecosystem functioning for human and natural wellbeing. They support regulating surface and groundwater flows, reducing water-related risks like landslides, floods and droughts and prevent desertification and salinisation. They also extract and process carbon dioxide into biomass. Forestry could also impact the natural environment, especially water quality and quantity. Engineering design and technology supports practices that maximise benefits and minimise impacts of forestry.

Bioengineers design, develop and improve processes to convert raw materials such as wood pulp into products such as paper, tissue and even plastic alternatives. They coordinate forestry processes and trial experimental designs to increase production, quality and reduce impact and costs. They also assist in the development and implementation of remediation projects to address factors such as soil erosion or slope instability, for example.

Bioengineers work closely with technical and operation personnel to monitor and optimise processes. They can work between research and development laboratories, an office environment and will occasionally visit forestry sites to gather samples and information.


Bioengineers require a strong understanding of chemistry and engineering principles and processes. They will further benefit from:

  • Creative problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Ability to draft designs based on abstract ideas
  • A strong attention to detail
  • Excellent spatial competence


Conduct research and develop new synthetic materials

Perform tests and propose processes for the manufacture of new products

Design equipment and processes for the manufacture of new products

Report findings, establish control standards and procedures for future production


B.Sc. Eng. in Chemical Engineering at UCT, UKZN and Wits

B.Eng. in Chemical Engineering at NWU, SU, UKZN and UP

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Chemical Engineering at CPUT, DUT, MUT, TUT, UJ, UNISA and VUT


Pulp and paper mill organisations.

Private forestry companies and consultancies. 

Research institutions. 

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