Swift action by Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo’s senior horticulturist, Joseph Ndou, resulted in the arrest of six employees from a leading landscaping company for allegedly illegally pruning trees.
Six acacias, estimated to be between 20 and 30 years old and valued at R600 000 were severely pruned. The six claimed they were acting on instruction from their superiors, who were commissioned by the adjacent shopping centre to increase the visibility of advertising signage, along this busy route.
Police officers from the Douglasdale Police Station and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) swiftly responded to Ndou’s call for assistance and the transgressing employees with their supervisors were subsequently detained at the Douglasdale Police Station.
Bryne Maduka, the Managing Director of Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo, commended the Region A, Operations Team and expressed his disappointment with the landscaping company and the shopping centre for displaying total disregard for the City of Joburg’s processes and bylaws.
“A case of malicious damage to public infrastructure has been opened and I would like the courts to set the tone, to ensure that we deal decisively with residents and businesses who do not respect the rule of law and the environment in the City of Joburg,” he stated.
“It is also gravely concerning that these established business committed this crime during Arbor Month, symbolically celebrated annually in September, to highlight the plight of trees and to encourage tree planting in the city.”
The City of Joburg’s man-made forest is at risk. Species such as the Jacaranda are reaching their full life expectancy. The challenges are further compounded by climate change, giving rise to erratic weather resulting in trees being uprooted and the arrival of the diseases such as, the Polyphagus Shothole Borer infestation, which is accelerating the demise of trees mostly in historically lush green suburbs.
Space constraints relative to increasing urbanisation and densification and financial constraints are also impeding the ability to speedily plant new trees in anticipation of future canopy losses.
Maduka pleaded with residents and businesses to become more involved in protecting and planting trees. “Now more than ever, we need to hasten our resolve to plant trees and become more informed on why every tree in our city matters.”
Illegal tree felling or offers to donate trees may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or call JMPD on 011 375 5911.