As the country celebrates National Arbor Week, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has called on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management.
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 is celebrated under the theme “Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future”.
The theme has been adopted from the XIV World forestry Congress that will take place from 7 to 11 September 2015 at 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, in partnership with Total South Africa, will on 3 September 2015 launched Arbor Week at the Durban Botanical Gardens.
The department will work together with 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.
In addition, a natural forest patch has been rehabilitated in KwaMakhutha through planting indigenous forests and the eradication of alien invasive plants.
As a build-up to the launch and part of the greening initiative in townships, a total of 300 indigenous shade trees were distributed to the community of KwaMakhutha on Tuesday.
Since September is also Heritage Month, the department said it will focus 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 the country’s heritage.
Trees of the year
Meanwhile, the department has announced the Forest bushwillow (Combretum krausii) and Parsley tree (Heteromorpha arborescens) as trees of the year for the 2015 campaign.
The Forest bushwillow is 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 200m.
The Parsley tree 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
In collaboration with the Total South Africa and the Institute for Environment and Recreation Management, the department will on Thursday announce the winning municipalities who participated in the Arbor City Award competition.
The award competition was introduced to promote the greening of cities and towns in South Africa. The award is given to cities/ towns that go an extra mile to green their areas of jurisdiction.