Wildlands celebrates Arbor Week with partners
National Arbor Week is celebrated on 1 – 7 September and is an opportunity for all South Africans to plant indigenous trees in support of a sustainable future.
Arbor Day originated in Nebraska in the United States of America in the 1870s. On 4 January 1872, J.Sterling Morton, a journalist, proposed a tree-planting holiday to be called “Arbor Day” at a meeting of the State Board of Agriculture. The date was set for 10 April 1872. It was estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. During the 1870s, other states passed legislation to observe Arbor Day.
Historically, South Africa has not had a culture of tree planting and it was not until the 1970s that a real need to promote tree planting was recognised. The concept of a National Arbor Day ensued from the 1973 Green Heritage Campaign. Following requests from various bodies, the then Department of Forestry obtained approval in 1982 to establish National Arbor Day that has been in place countrywide since 1983. In 1996, the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry extended Arbor Day from one day to one week.
Arbor Week encapsulates the vision of Wildlands and also brings one of their core projects, “Trees for Life” under the spotlight.
Trees for Life was born in 2004 and after 10 years has expanded into 70 communities and sees the planting of over 1 000 000 trees per annum. The 8000 community members involved in the project are referred to as Tree-preneurs and exchange their trees with Wildlands for livelihood support items such us school fees, groceries, solar panels, Jojo tanks and bicycles.
ACSA, a loyal donor to the environmental NPO, celebrated their 21 year anniversary by planting 21 indigenous trees near King Shaka International Airport.
Representatives from Tongaat Hulett Development, DEA NRM (Department of Environmental Affairs – Natural Resource Management), eThekwini Municipality and Wildlands gathered to celebrate the start of a new restoration team which will be based in Cornubia (KZN) and also planted 30 trees to mark the occasion.
Mutual and Federal also got involved in the theme of the week and donated 70 trees to Hayfields Primary School in Pietermaritzburg. Wildlands staff did a presentation to the school children about indigenous trees and how to take care of them, as well as assisted the children in planting the trees.
Clinique and Estee Lauder also decided to incorporate their annual “KZN Do it Day” into Arbor Week and their 15 staff volunteers planted 107 indigenous trees with Wildlands at Paradise Valley. “Today was so special,” said Anna Carlier of Clinique, “not only did we get to make a difference we got to meet the local Tree-preneurs and hear the stories behind the trees they nurtured and we planted.”
Uthungulu District held a large scale Arbor Event in partnership with uThungulu District Municiplaity, Ntambanana Municipality, Edtea (Economic development, tourism and environmental affairs) the Province of KZN, Daff (Department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries), RBCT (Richards Bay Coal terminal), Foskor and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
Wildlands donated 150 indigenous trees to this event, which were distributed throughout local schools in the uThungulu district. The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries donated 400 trees which were distributed throughout households in Macekane, 2 trees per household (one indigenous tree and one fruit tree). Companies that form part of the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone also got involved in the uThungulu Arbor Week celebrations, while Foskor planted trees as part of a carbon sequestration model, which describes long-term storage of carbon dioxide or other forms of carbon to either mitigate or defer global warming and avoid climate change.
MTN and Aqua Online volunteers also got into the spirit of Arbor Week and partnered with Wildlands and 6 local schools (Mkhambi Primary, Kutemela Molefi Primary, Cullinan, Bosckop Primary, Lesedi Secondary and Wozanibone Secondary) by sponsoring and planting 1000 indigenous trees, all grown by local Tree-preneurs. This specific planting activity was inspired by MTN who decided to look at how much CO2 was created through staff travel, logistics, screen time, printing, social media etc, and made a decision to plant trees to offset the sum of CO2.
“The passion of sharing knowledge around indigenous trees, planting trees and ultimately contributing to the mitigation of climate change is intensified during a week like this,” says Wildlands CEO Dr Andrew Venter. “For us at Wildlands a week like this simply serves as inspiration and motivation to keep doing what we do best – cleaning and greening communities, working towards a sustainable future for all.”