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Joburg's urban forest to grow
30 August 2007
Celebrating Arbor week

Already the largest manmade urban forest in the world, Johannesburg is planning to add thousands more trees to its landscape, greening the traditionally neglected townships.

THOUSANDS of trees will be planted across Joburg over the next three years under City Parks's new One tree at a time campaign.

Some 100 000 indigenous trees will planted on the streets of new and developing suburbs under the campaign, which will be launched on Monday, 3 September.

'Trees are the lifelines of our city,' says City Parks' Luther Williamson
'Trees are the lifelines of our city,' says City Parks' Luther Williamson

According to Prema Naidoo, the member of the mayoral committee for environment, the campaign is aimed at solving greening problems caused by urbanisation. "There is a collective need to accelerate greening programmes to enhance the quality of life of every resident."

One tree at a time is an appeal to individuals and business to work with the City in building a greener and healthier Johannesburg, says Jenny Moodley, the City Parks spokesperson. The agency will plant 9 500 street trees during Arbor Month to add to the 2 100 already planted. Various completed road island initiatives will also be unveiled.

Arbor Day – when people are encouraged to plant trees - is celebrated nationally on 1 September; in 1999, the government extended the celebration for a week, running from 1 to 7 September. City Parks will run its programmes over the full month.

Some R44-million has been set aside for the City Parks campaign. "This is a huge investment in greening and beatifying our city," says Johnny Masinga, the organisational developmental adviser at Equity Aviation, one of the companies that is working with City Parks on One tree at a time. Through supporting the project, companies will have a chance to help fight climate change.

"Residents are reminded that we have a collective responsibility to nurture our greenery, as trees improve air quality, provide a habitat for wildlife and have the potential to increase property values," Moodley adds.

Luther Williamson, the managing director of City Parks, says Arbor Month gives people an opportunity to reflect on the importance of trees. "Tress, with their health, economic and environmental benefits, are the lifelines of our city."

Arbor Month events
City Parks has partnered with a number of companies to plant thousands of trees across Johannesburg.

First off, Executive Mayor Amos Masondo will join hundreds of people at Dorothy Nyembe Park in Dobsonville Soweto on Saturday, 1 September, where 11 000 trees will be handed over to Dobsonville residents.

South African former Formula One world champion Jody Scheckter donated the trees in support of the City's ambitious Greening Soweto project, under which it aims to turn the township into an urban forest before the 2010 Fifa World Cup™. He has partnered with City Parks, Talk Radio 702 and Food and Trees for Africa.

The event will start at 11am.

Alexandra
At River Park in Alexandra, more than 500 people will receive 1 000 tress donated by Equity Aviation on Tuesday, 4 September. The event will start at 10am.

Pikitup
Meanwhile, Pikitup will be planting more than 80 trees in Soweto, Alexandra and Diepsloot.

Under the theme, My tree for 2010 and beyond, a team led by Amanda Buzo, the utility's head of environmental management, will be working with three environmental organisations from these places to promote the role of trees in achieving a healthy environment. Residents will be urged to adopt the trees to ensure that they are maintained.

"We need to reconcile with the environment and realise the importance of trees to us human beings," says Smith Radigoana, the utility's manager of environmental education awareness and community development.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry's chosen trees to plant during Arbor Week this year are the Pavetta schumanniana (poison brides bush) and the Rhus pyroides (common wild currant).

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