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​The City of Johannesburg’s green revolution is in full swing.

On Friday it swept through Pennyville, a mixed-use housing development near New Canada railway station, outside Soweto, where Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo donated more than 300 trees.

The launch of the Pennyville green space project comes in the wake of a recent announcement by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo that, according to a new draft bylaw, no building plans will be approved in future if no provision is made for the planting of trees.

The event was attended by Johannesburg Social Housing Company Chief Executive Officer Rory Gallocher, senior officials and local residents.

Johannesburg Member of the Mayoral Committee for Housing Councillor Dan Bovu could, however, not make it because he had to attend to an urgent matter.

Speaking on Councillor Bovu’s behalf, Gallocher said the tree-planting initiative at Pennyville was in honour of the late former President Nelson Mandela who, during his incarceration on Robben Island, fought for the right to grow a garden.

“When he celebrated his 90th birthday in 2008, we were honoured by his presence at Thokoza Park in Soweto, where he planted a tree. We are happy to join the community of Pennyville today to celebrate this tree-planting event,” Gallocher said.

He said the tree-planting programme was part of a mayoral legacy initiative started by former Johannesburg Executive Mayor Amos Masondo in 2006 to address social and environmental imperatives and imbalances.

“Today we continue with that legacy under our current Executive Mayor, Mpho Parks Tau,” Gallocher said.

He said as a responsible City, Johannesburg had a duty to mitigate challenges such as climate change.

“We know that greening and environmental interventions constitute an important act as mitigating factors. Greening our townships is a priority. Townships have long been characterised by air pollution and dust. It is our commitment that new townships and previously disadvantaged areas will no longer be barren. Trees are important to the environment. They help to keep the air supply clean, reduce noise pollution, improve water quality, help prevent soil erosion, provide food and building materials, create shade and help beautify landscapes.”

He encouraged communities to take care of the environment by planting trees and greening their neighbourhoods. He thanked Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo for its “continued commitment to bridging the green divide between the disadvantaged townships, the new townships and the suburbs”.

He said he hoped the community of Pennyville would continue to nurture and enjoy this biodiversity of their area.

Gallocher also used the opportunity to bring residents up to speed with efforts to address their concerns, including the upgrading of the storm water drain and sewerage systems, and the refurbishment of housing units.

“The city’s aim is to improve the lives of the residents. The quality of areas where communities live has to be of high standard,” he said.