South Africa celebrates Arbor Week from 1 to 7 September annually as part of the implementation of the National Greening Strategy.
This year’s Arbor Week will be celebrated under the theme: ‘Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future’. The theme has been adopted from the XIV World forestry Congress. This year’s campaign is being used as a build-up towards the XIV World Forestry Congress that will take place from 7 to 11 September 2015 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. The congress aims to highlight the value of forests with regard to sustainable livelihoods, environmental conservation and development in general.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in partnership with Total South Africa will launch Arbor Week at the Durban Botanical Gardens on 3 September 2015. DAFF will work together with the provincial KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, eThekwini Municipality, Food and Trees for Africa and a youth group called Future Leaders of Change to establish food gardens in households and local schools in KwaMakhutha, 30km south of Durban. In addition, a natural forest patch has been rehabilitated in KwaMakhutha through planting of indigenous forests and eradication of alien invasive.
As a build-up to the launch, today saw the distribution of 300 indigenous shade trees to the community of KwaMakhutha as part of the greening initiative in townships.
September is also heritage month and as we celebrate Arbor Week, the department also focuses on the country’s champion trees which include some of the oldest, largest and culturally significant trees. These include the Sophia Town Oak Tree and the Sagole Baobab Tree in Limpopo, which are part of our heritage.
National Arbor Week is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management.
It affords the government, the private sector, non-governmental and community based organisations and the public to be involved in “greening” their communities.
Planting trees and greening human settlements takes place in communities.
It is therefore important for the public to join hands with partners in local government and community-based organisations.
Greening refers to an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas to secure multiple benefits for communities.
Greening in the South African context takes place in towns, townships and informal settlements specifically because in the past, the latter areas were disadvantaged in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces.
Trees of the year
In order to promote greening, especially the planting of indigenous trees whose occurrence has become scarce, the concept of the trees of the year was born some years ago. Previously there were two selected trees of the year comprising of a rare and common species. However, at times there are three trees of the year. For the 2015 campaign, the trees of the year are:
Forest bushwillow (Combretum krausii).This tree has been selected from the list of common species. It is handsome, quick growing and reasonably cold resistant. It is recommended for shady areas in gardens with a mild to warm climate. Found from the coast to the midlands in the eastern regions of South Africa and neighbouring Swaziland. The habitat ranges from rocky hillsides at altitudes from almost sea level up to 1 200 m. It grows anywhere from evergreen forest or forest margins to dense woodland.
Parsley tree (Heteromorpha arborescens). This tree has been selected from the list of rare species. This small to medium-sized, deciduous tree or straggly shrub is suitable for a small maintenance-free garden. It occurs in wooded grassland, bushveld and on forest margins. It is fairly widespread in the eastern regions of South Africa, from the southern Cape up through Eastern Cape and eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland into Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It also occurs further north in Africa.
Arbor City Awards Competition
The Arbor City Award competition was introduced to promote the greening of cities and towns in South Africa. It is collaboration between the DAFF, Total South Africa and the Institute for Environment and Recreation Management. This award is given to cities/ towns that go an extra mile to green their areas of jurisdiction.
The winning municipalities who participated in the Arbor City awards competition will be announced at a prize giving ceremony during the Arbor Week launch event in Durban.
Last year, the eThekwini Municipality won the first prize for the Metropolitan Municipality category in the Arbor City Awards competition.
Programme of the day:
Venue: KwaMakhutha (Visit to the Rehabilitated Forest and unveiling of the plaque and a visit to two food security projects and household food gardens)
Details of the launch of Arbor Week and Arbor City Awards:
Date: Thursday, 3 September 2015
Venue: Durban Botanical Gardens.