Trees do not just beautify our communities but bring life to people.
This was the key message delivered to the people of Khayelitsha when the City of Cape Town launched Arbor Month on Thursday September 6.
Different organisations and community leaders gathered in Harare Square just opposite Kwamfundo High School to attend the event.
The theme this year is “Urban Forests and Sustainable Cities”, and the yellowwood has been designated as the tree of the year.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, JP Smith, said the City was under enormous pressure for houses and that impacted on the existence of trees.
He said gone were the days of planning large areas with trees but it now was a matter of planting smartly and preserving the existing trees.
He said the City had had to revisit its approach to Arbor Month specifically because of the drought and the realisation that there was a water-scarcity in the region.
Mr Smith said a tree census is among a number of initiatives that the City of Cape Town is engaged in to celebrate and preserve trees and make the city more sustainable.
“Other threats to our trees include ongoing development, a lack of understanding in some quarters about the benefits of trees and, of course, illegal harvesting of trees and bark.
“In a country with many challenges, talking about trees might
seem frivolous but the reality is that how we treat our environment today will have a massive impact on the generations of tomorrow,” he said.
Ward councillor Anele Gabuza said trees played a vital role in keeping the soil in good condition and keeping the air fresh. He said many people in the area did not understand the importance of trees and their environmental significance.
He said between 2011 and last year only about 723 trees had been planted by the City due to drought and other unforeseen challenges. He said it was crucial that residents were being taught why they should preserve tress and why they should plant more.
Mr Gabuza added that there were only a few trees in the Harare area.
“I will do my best to ensure that we preserve the trees. We need to educate children about the importance of trees.
“ Trees bring us fresh oxygen and energy.
“We should strive to have a greener environment.
“We should also highlight the importance of living a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
Mayoral committee member for area east, Anda Ntsodo, commended people who had trees
on their properties and applauded the “heroes” who run community garden projects, emphasising
that it was important for people
to be able to produce their own food.Nokulunga Ngqongwa said she was among those running Ujamaa Communal Garden in Harare which sought to educate township residents about the importance of producing fresh food.
She said this project also urges people to convert unused land into food gardens from which the whole community could benefit.