South Africa celebrates Arbor Week from 1-7 September annually. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as the custodian of forestry in South Africa, is responsible for the campaign.
This year’s Arbor Week will be celebrated under the theme: ‘Forests and People: Investing in a sustainable future’. The theme has been adopted from the XIV World forestry Congress. This year’s campaign is being used as a build-up towards the XIV World Forestry Congress that will take place from 7 to 11 September 2015 at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban. The congress aims to highlight the value of forests with regard to sustainable livelihoods, environmental conservation and development in general.
September is also heritage month and as we celebrate Arbor Week, the department also focuses on the country’s champion trees which include some of the 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.
National Arbor Week is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management.
- It affords the government, the private sector, non-governmental and community based organisations and the public to be involved in “greening” their communities. Planting trees and greening human settlements takes place in communities.
- It is therefore important for the public to 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 in the South African context takes place in towns, townships and informal settlements specifically because in the past the latter mentioned areas were disadvantaged in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces.
Trees of the year
In order to promote greening, especially the planting of indigenous trees whose occurrence has become scarce, the concept of the trees of the year was born some years ago. Previously there were two selected trees of the year comprising of a rare and common species. However, at times there are three trees of the year.
For the 2015 campaign, the trees of the year are:
- Forest bushwillow (Combretum krausii).This tree has been selected from the list of common species. It is handsome, quick growing and reasonably cold resistant. It is recommended for shady areas in gardens with a mild to warm climate. Found from the coast to the midlands in the eastern regions of South Africa and neighbouring Swaziland. The habitat ranges from rocky hillsides at altitudes from almost sea level up to 1 200 m. It grows anywhere from evergreen forest or forest margins to dense woodland.
- Parsley tree (Heteromorpha arborescens). This tree has been selected from the list of rare species. This small to medium-sized, deciduous tree or straggly shrub is suitable for a small maintenance-free garden. It occurs in wooded grassland, bushveld and on forest margins. It is fairly widespread in the eastern regions of South Africa, from the southern Cape up through Eastern Cape and eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland into Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. It also occurs further north in Africa.
Source: South African Government