Speech by the MEC for Agriculture, Mme Dipuo-Letsatsi Duba at the Arbor Week provincial event, Majeje Village
14 Sep 2010Member of the Executive Council for Public Works; Mr Phadagi The Executive Mayor of Mopani District Municipality; Councillor Matlou Ba-Phalaborwa Local Municipality representative
Kgosi Majeje Councillors
Ladies and gentlemen
Programme Director, if we could close our eyes for a moment, and imagine a world without trees. Imagine a South Africa without trees. That would mean a catastrophe as seen never before in our world.
Writing in one of his short poems, Leonora Speyer says:
“The trees are God’s great alphabet;
With them He writes in shining green
Across the world His thoughts serene.”
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 States, 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.
Programme Director, on the greening front, the national Department of Agriculture Forestries 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.
This year’s Arbor Week 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 Week we are encouraging communities to:
Ladies and gentlemen
- stop cutting trees
- plant trees and contribute to the greening of our country
- stop veld and forest fires – they destroy life, let's prevent them.
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
Programme Director, as we celebrate Arbor Week, 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, besides the Arbor Week Campaign, the Premier of the province has initiated and launched the Greening Limpopo Project 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.
It is envisaged that through the programme the following issues will be addressed:
Programme Director, the Greening Limpopo project cannot exceed the set target if there is no partnerships with municipalities 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 into the development of an operational plan and in taking upon the challenge an estimated 10 000 trees were planted as an effort to support the Premier’s initiative. This initiative and the subsequent planning of construction of a nursery by the Department of Agriculture for the Majeje community, together with development of parks and recreation facilities 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.
- 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.
As we celebrate Arbor Week today, we have already planted 3 000 trees in the homesteads. The trees were planted in a participatory approach which involved the training of Community Based Educators who will in turn disseminate information about the planting, caring and maintenance of trees to the broader community. Let these trees be a symbol of growth and 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 Project we are saying “Together we can plant more”.
To our learners and youth in general, Arbor Week seeks to instill 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. Furthermore, we need to conserve and protect these trees from damage and vandalism. Remember the trees are an important green heritage of our country. Please take care of them.
Programme Director, Arbor Week and the Greening Limpopo Project 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 and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) who has 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 Week, we are closing the scene for a number of festivities that has taken place throughout Limpopo Province, some, like this one extended beyond the end date of the campaign which was the 7 September. However, we are saying: Let tree planting not be limited to Arbor Week. Let every week be Arbor Week as a commitment to the greening of our country.
Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank Ba-Phalaborwa local municipality for hosting this important event in partnership with the Department of Agriculture. 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.
Lastly, but not least, I would like to thank the officials of all the departments who organised this event.
Source: Limpopo Department of Agriculture
Issued by: Limpopo Agriculture
14 Sep 2010
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