Arbor Day originated in 1872 in the United States territory of Nebraska. Mr. J. Sterling Morton, a newcomer to the treeless plains of Nebraska, was a keen proponent of the beauty and benefit of trees. He persuaded the local agricultural board to set aside a day for planting trees and through his position as editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, encouraged participation in the event by publishing articles on the value of trees for soil protection, fruit, shade and building. Mr. Morton’s home, known as Arbor Lodge, was a testament to his love for trees and so inspired the name of the holiday; Arbor Day.Within two decades Arbor Day was celebrated in every US State and territory, and eventually spread around the world. The tradition continues annually in the second week of August, in global acknowledgment of Mr. Morton’s slogan, “other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognised 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 ArborWeek. From 1 to 7 September every year, schools, businesses and organisations 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.
Many countries across the globe will recognize the importance of educating youths about the benefits of keeping our environment as green as possible. With this in mind, many countries celebrate Arbor Day once a year – a day on which trees are planted and emphasis is placed on the importance they play in the circle of life. In South Africa, Arbor Day is celebrated for an entire week.
National Arbor Week in South Africa is a time when South Africans of all ages are encouraged to celebrate the beauty and importance of trees. People from all aspects of the community are urged to get involved and thousands are educated and made aware of the benefits of the many different aspects of forestry. For the sake of simplification, the term ‘forestry’ is divided into three different categories during National Arbor Week.
The first is that of Indigenous Forests, which not only provide a home for wildlife but which provide attractions for thousands visitors and increase revenue. Indigenous Forests may also provide trees and herbs which are often used for natural remedies on which hundreds of people depend. They provide a barrier against soil erosion and they continue to sustain their environment and support the African wildlife. Commercial Forests, on the other hand, are completely unnatural. But their role is equally important since they not only provide people with jobs, but they also provide the wood which is needed in industry. Metropolitan Forests refers to the trees, plants and lawns which are grown in cities and towns across the country. Without these small pieces of greenery amidst the concrete and brick, our environments would be dull and lifeless. Breathing would also be difficult since there would be little in our environment capable of producing fresh air for us to utilize.
During the course of National Arbor Week, South Africans are provided with a better knowledge of trees and how they affect their day-to-day lives. Awareness about the dangers of forest fires is raised and emphasis is placed on the importance of the forestry industry and on trees in general. Trees are planted and landscapes are made greener. Many of the week’s events are organized by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) but sponsorship may take many different forms. Food and Trees For Africa (FTFA) also take advantage of the week to help people from poorer communities learn how to develop and maintain a food garden. Truly the importance of this week – which usually takes place during the first week of September – cannot be underestimated.
|2018 Trees of the Year||
Suitable for Southern Cape
Yellowwoods, Geelhoutbome P. elongatus, P. falcatus, P.
henkelii, P. latifolius
Boscia albitrunca Shepherd’s tree,