Arbor Week: Time to plant some trees

Arbor Week: Time to plant some trees

 “Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.”- John Muir

Celebrate Arbor Week with us from 31 August to 4 September. The custodian of forestry in South Africa, The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), is managing the annual campaign. The focus is on our country’s champion trees in line with our heritage celebration in September – 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.

It’s important to educate the youth about the benefits of keeping our environment as green as possible. Many countries around the globe celebrate Arbor Day on one day of the year to plant trees and place emphasis on the importance they play in the circle of life. As South Africans, we celebrate Arbor Day the entire week – because one day just isn’t enough!

Origin of Arbor Day

In 1872 Mr J Sterling Morton, a newcomer to the treeless plains of Nebraska in the United States, was a keen proponent of the beauty and benefit of trees. He persuaded the local agricultural board to dedicate a tree-planting day. He encouraged participation in the local newspaper with articles on the value of trees for soil protection, fruit, shade, and building. Mr Morton’s home, Arbor Lodge, inspired the name of the holiday – Arbor Day. Within two decades that this day was celebrated, it eventually spread around the world – “other holidays repose the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.”

Plant trees this week

In South Africa, this day was first honoured in 1983. We recognised the need to raise awareness of the value of trees in our society. Trees play a vital role in the health and wellbeing of our communities, especially as sources of building material, food, medicine, and pure scenic beauty.

For one week every year, schools, businesses, and organisations are encouraged to participate in local greening projects to improve our environment and propose a green future for our country. To help increase awareness of the 2000 indigenous tree species, every Arbor Week highlights two specific trees – one common and one rare species – this year being Ekebergia capensis Cape ash, Essenhout and Adansonia digitate Baobab, Kremetart.

This is the opportune time to call friends and family to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management with the following benefits:

  • Planting trees and greening human settlements help affords the government, the private sector, non-governmental and community-based organisations and the public to be involved in “greening” their communities.
  • It’s vital that the public 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 takes place in towns, townships, and informal settlements primarily to rectify previously disadvantaged actions in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces.

Will you get involved in planting trees for our future generations? Happy Arbor Week, Sandton!