Celebrating Arbor Week

This week is Arbor Week, which means that it’s completely socially acceptable to be out hugging trees in public!

On a more serious note though, Arbor Week, which runs from the 1st to the 7th September, is about raising awareness for the need to plant and maintain indigenous trees throughout South Africa. Citizens are encouraged to participate in tree planting activities and related environmental education programmes in order to highlight the important role that trees play in sustainable development and the livelihoods of people and their environment.

Some history

Arbor Week originated in 1872 in the United States and South Africa first celebrated it in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognized the need for raising awareness of the value of trees in our society. As sources of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of our communities. Collective enthusiasm for the importance of this issue in South Africa inspired the national government, in 1999, to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week. From 1 to 7 September every year, schools, businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in community "greening" events to improve the health and beauty of the local environment and propose a green future for South Africa.

2012’s trees

Each year one common and one or two rare species of indigenous tree are granted the auspicious title of “Tree of the Year”. This year the common tree is the Water berry / Waterbessie (Syzygium cordatum) and the two rare trees are the Red Beech / Rooiboekenhout (Protorhus longifolia) and the Black Mangrove / Swartwortelboom (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza).

How you can get involved:

  • Purchase one of the 2012 trees from your local nursery, or if you prefer, any other indigenous tree, and plant it in your garden this weekend.
  • Try growing a tree from scratch – get the “Grow-a-tree” starter kit from Sustainable.co.za. This would be a great way to get the kids involved.
  • If you don’t have a garden or worry that you don’t have a green thumb, you can always sponsor a tree through Food & Trees for Africa that they will plant in a local community that needs greening. You’ll even get a certificate telling you where your tree will be planted!

Get your business or company involved:

A final thought to leave you with:

“Planting a tree might be the most positive thing you could do for further generations, It's the most simple and most beautiful work, one that binds man back to the earth.”  Tree-Nation founder Maxime Renaudin.

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