Speech by Honourable MEC for Agriculture Mme Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba on the occasion of 2010 Arbor Day celebration, Ba-Phalaborwa
14 Sep 2010
Member of the Executive Council for Public Works; Mr G Phadagi
Member of the Executive Council for LEDET; Mr P Moloto in absence
Executive Mayor of Mopani District; Councillor J Matlou
Speaker of Mopani District Municipality; Councillor T Mohlala
Mayor of Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality; Councillor GD Mudunungu
Mayors from other districts and municipalities
CEO for Limpopo Tourism and Parks Board; Mr R Tooley
The Chairperson of the National Forests Advisory Council; Mr
Chief Director for DAFF-Forestry; Ceba Mtoba
Officials from various government departments
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my honour for me to be here on this international occasion and to join you in celebrating the Provincial Arbor Day. This event, marks the start of the planting season, it is time to inspire people to plant, nurture and celebrate the unique biodiversity of our country. Today’s attendance demonstrates that together we can play part in protecting our indigenous trees for socio-economic and environmental sustainability.
Since its beginning in 1983 when it was known and celebrated as Arbor Day in the country, Arbor Week (1 to 7 September) has found a permanent place in our events calendar as a way of managing deforestation and biodiversity. The celebration of this day in our country has been extended to a week, as one day would not have been enough to inform and educate the whole country about the importance of trees.
Arbor Week is celebrated each year in the beginning of September to focus our attention on the importance and value of trees in our daily lives and to raise awareness about the need to plant more trees and protect existing ones. The spirit on display as we celebrate Provincial Arbor Week here today, for sure is the same spirit that was the motivational force behind the work of J Sterling Morton of Nebraska in the United States, who proposed in 1872 that a public holiday called Arbor Day be celebrated by the State of Nebraska. In 1874, Arbor Day was celebrated for the first time in United State, and today, I am happy to join the community of Majeje as we celebrate Provincial Arbor Week 2010 and the Greening of Limpopo Province programme.
Arbor Week is an annual event that takes place and is celebrated every year from the 1to 7 September. The week is aimed at raising awareness about trees, their importance in our daily lives as well as their biodiversity and encourages communities to plant trees and protect existing trees.
Programme director, this year Arbor Day will be celebrated under the theme “Plant for the Planet - Grow Green”. Linked to this theme are messages that are calling us as South Africans to action, and to ensure environmental conservation and development in our country. As we celebrate Arbor Day we are encouraging communities to:
- stop cutting trees
- plant trees and contribute to the greening of our country
- stop Veld and Forest Fires – they destroy life, lets prevent them!
Ladies and gentlemen,
- Trees are the lungs of the earth
- By planting trees and greening the country we are saying no to desertification
- Fruit trees and other food security programmes help alleviate hunger and poverty
- Trees through commercial plantations also contribute towards economic opportunities and job creation, especially in the rural areas
The Honourable Minister of DAFF, Ms Tina Joemat-Patterson has on the 1 September celebrated the National Arbor Week at Orange Farm in Gauteng province.
Programme director, as we celebrate Arbor Day, we have to be mindful of the fact that global climate is changing and that it is likely to continue changing for many years to come. Climate change brings about extreme weather, droughts and floods, melting of the permanent ice of the north and south poles as well as rising ocean levels. All this is the result of air pollution caused by human activities.
Trees and other vegetation play a vital role to mitigate the negative effects of climate change by accumulating carbon which is stored as part of the dry weight of the plant biomass. Trees are especially valuable because they produce wood, in which large quantities of carbon is locked up for many years.
To put this into perspective; one hectare of forest growing at the rate of producing 10m3 of wood per year will be removing carbon to the equivalent of 14 million m3 of air. One can visualise this as a column of air 1.4 km deep over an area of forest the size of two soccer fields. Do keep in mind that trees do not all grow equally fast, and all forests are not equally productive as carbon sinks. Trees in urban environments and commercial forestry plantations are generally quite fast growing and are therefore active carbon sinks.
Programme director, in the past few months the country hosted the Soccer World Cup which has been a resounding success including the Greening 2010 hosting municipalities.
Government would like to improve on the successes gained during the World Cup to ensure that service delivery is enhanced at all levels. This will be done by drawing on the lessons learnt and implementing these in our everyday operations. On the greening front, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has put together a Greening Strategy that will see all the five District Municipalities of Limpopo receiving support to green their areas. The implementation of this greening strategy will go a long way to ensure that townships, informal settlements and previously disadvantaged areas are turned from barren areas into green, healthy and lively surroundings. As I speak today, Ba Phalaborwa local municipality has already developed a greening plan, thanks!
Ladies and gentlemen, it is worth noting that on 18 March 2010 the Honourable Premier of the province Ntate Cassel Mathale has initiated and launched the Greening Limpopo Programme in line with the Greening Strategy with a purpose of planting at least a million trees annually. This is a partnership programme which involves government, non-government organisations, mines, community based organisations, the corporate sector and society at large. We are also implementing the programme in line with the United Nations Plant for the Planet Programme also known as the Billion Trees Campaign. I am glad to announce that our efforts in contributing towards this international greening programme are already being recognised.
The Honourable MEC for Public Works is spearheading the coordination of the Greening Programme given his champion in the Expanded Public Works Programme whilst the Department of Agriculture and LEDET are responsible for the technical and implementation aspects. The launch by the Premier was a call to all citizens of the province to join hands in making Limpopo green whilst at the same time fighting diseases and dislodging poverty from its pedestal. Since the launch, a lot of work was done by individuals, municipalities and departments, private sector, NGOs in embarking on this campaign and greening initiatives. On 30August 2010, the Premier hosted the Limpopo Greening Gala Dinner in recognition of the ambassadors in their pursuit of greening initiatives and galvanising support in the municipalities.
It is envisaged that through the programme the following issues will be addressed:
- Mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change. Trees sequestrate carbon and gives off oxygen
- Purification of the air in localities. Trees trap dust and other pollutant particles thereby contributing to air purification
- Beautification and creation of an aesthetically pleasing environment through greenery and promotion of biodiversity in urban areas
- Promotion of eco-tourism
- Contribution to food security through the planting of fruit trees and establishment of small orchards where feasible.
Programme director, the Greening Limpopo Programme cannot exceed the set target if there is no partnerships with municipalities, individuals and other stakeholders. I am pleased that the Department of Public Works has led the initiative very well and the Department of Agriculture has responded positively by introducing a programme that ultimately led to the development of an operational plan and in taking upon the challenge an estimated 3 000 trees were planted as an effort to support the Premier’s initiative since March 2010. As a contribution to the Provincial Greening Programme, my department has budgeted R4 million for the roll out of the programme through re-vegetating degraded areas through vetivar grass planting, establishment of a nursery, planting of indigenous and fruit trees.
This initiative and the subsequent construction of a nursery by the Department of Agriculture for the Majeje community, planting of vetivar grass to eroded areas, development of parks and recreation facilities by other sectors will go a long way in addressing environmental concerns in residential areas. We are pleased to observe that these services are now being extended to previously disadvantaged areas such as townships, informal settlements and rural areas.
Government will be failing in its duty if it does not caution the public on a bigger threat to our trees, plantations and indigenous forests in the form of veld fires. We are now entering the dry season and the veld is dry which poses a risk of veld fires. The chance of veld fire igniting, spreading and causing irreparable damage to assets and loss of human life is high. The province is rated as an extremely high veld fire risk area due to the fact that our province is rural and most of the province is covered with a mix of grassland and woodlands. Our campaign to green our communities is often derailed by people who indiscriminately cut down trees for firewood. This is a serious setback as it removes soil cover which leads to soil erosion. Our communities must realise that electricity and gas are better and cleaner sources of energy for cooking than fire wood. We must urge our people to use deadwood and invader species for firewood.
Let these trees be a symbol of growth, environmental conservation and development in Limpopo province. The partnership between my Department, Ba-Phalaborwa Local Municipality and the Community of Majeje is an indication that together we can do more. For the Greening Limpopo Programme, we are saying “Together we can plant more”.
The Greening Limpopo will translate into government creating jobs through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) under the Environment and Culture Sector which the Department of Agriculture assumes the coordination function in the province. LandCare Programme which is community based andcommunity led natural resource management is currentlyspending its R8.716 million allocation to deal withunsustainable land management practices that contributes togreening. These projects are mainly dealing with therehabilitation of the state of environment through soilconservation and veld management.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Significant challenges in Limpopo are the achievement of better soil, nutrient and water management practices to improve low crop yields and reduce natural resource degradation in order to improve high production. My department is also implementing the Eco-technology at an allocation of R3 million in the identified war room municipalities of Greater Tubatse, Fetakgomo, Makhuduthamaga, Blouberg and Greater Giyani.
The concept of eco-technologies supports the broader idea of an integrated approach to natural resource management. Preliminary results for different cropping systems such as Conservation Agriculture (CA) that were adopted in the homesteads and farmlands of Mphanama and Ga Kgatla have motivated the beneficiaries that it is a move in the right direction.
To our learners and youth in general, Arbor Day seeks to instil a sense of responsibility for the environment we live in, especially the trees. We need to take care of our trees at our homes, in our streets and in parks like these. The presence of these trees in our surroundings adds to the values that we derive from the environment. Remember the trees are an important green heritage of our country. Please take care of them.
Programme director, Arbor Day and the Greening Limpopo Programme would not have been successful without the involvement of other stakeholders. The department would like to particularly mention the involvement of Steven Lumber Mills, Silicon mine, Lepelle Northern Water, Lovelife, Phalaborwa foundation, the SABC and other role players who have been the sponsors and came on board without any hesitation and is currently supporting the greening initiative. We would like to say thank you very much for your involvement and sponsorship. We hope you are willing to do even more, and remember, together we can do more.
Today as we celebrate Arbor Day, we are closing the scene for a number of festivities that have taken place throughout Limpopo province. Some like this one extended beyond the end date of the campaign which was 7 September. However, we are saying: Let tree planting not be limited to Arbor Week. Let every day during the planting season be Arbor Day as a commitment to greening of our country.
Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank Ba-Phalaborwa local municipality for hosting this important event in partnership with my Department, the Department of Agriculture, DAFF, LEDET and Public Works. I would also like to thank the municipality for their efforts in extending greening to previously disadvantaged areas, in particular townships such as Lulekani and Namakgale. I would like to thank the organisers of this event including the participation of the province, community based organisations, non-government organisations and the community of Majeje. We need to vigorously encourage and promote a culture of tree planting in these areas.
Lastly, I would like to thank the officials of all the departments who organised this event.
“Plant for the planet - grow green”.
Issued by: Limpopo Agriculture
14 Sep 2010
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