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2008-09-01: Madiba to plant the 90990th tree in Soweto during Arbor Week

JOHANNESBURG City Parks is the greening entity in the City of Johannesburg, responsible for parks, cemeteries, conservation areas, water bodies, road-island beautification and street trees.

The challenge for the greening agency is to address outdoor recreation and greening disparities in developing areas, such as Soweto, Alexandra, Lenasia, Kliptown, and new suburbs such as Midrand, Wilgeheuwel, etc.

To address these imbalances, City Parks is actively lobbying the private sector in planting trees, beautifying road-islands and developing much needed multi-functional parks, by capitalizing on the momentum of the preparations to host the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Arbor Month, which is observed annually in September, is one of City Parks' key vehicles to garner support from business and residents, to take collective responsibility of the city's green lungs.

The Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Clr Amos Masondo has issued a 'call to action' to business to plant 200 000 street trees as we build towards 2010. To date in excess of 90 000 trees have been planted as part of a city-wide campaign. An additional 30 000 trees will be planted during 2008, and another 80 000 during the 18 months thereafter- to meet the 2010 target of 200 000 street trees.

The campaign has so far excited residents, with a greater level of environmental consciousness in areas such as Soweto. The greening and beautification project especially along Old Potchefstroom Road, in Rockville, Soweto has seen residents take greater ownership of their spaces. Litter, vandalism, illegal dumping and vagrancy have been significantly decreased. More importantly, residents that live alongside open spaces that have been developed by City Parks' are renovating their homes and developing their gardens to complement the new parks.

Clr Prema Naidoo, the MMC for Environment in the City of Joburg stated, that  "greening programmes, not only assist in returning the integrity of the open space, but that it also assists in restoring dignity to the area."

The City of Joburg's flagship Arbor Day event will be hosted in Thokoza Park in Soweto and will see Nelson Mandela ceremonially plant the 90990th tree to mark Madiba's 90th birthday celebrations.

"Having the opportunity to say thank you to Madiba for paving the way for a healthy, vibrant and green Soweto, is a great honour for City Parks- and we thank the Nelson Mandela Foundation for making this possible during Arbor Month," added Clr Naidoo.

Residents in the City of Joburg, are invited to participate in observing Arbor Month by planting an indigenous tree, or donating trees to the greening campaign by emailing trees@jhbcityparks.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or faxing 086 550 9290.