14 March 2011
The South African government, in partnership with companies and non-governmental organisations, has exceeded its national greening target of one-million trees a year for the last three years running, planting over 4-million trees in total.
In 2007/08, around 1 700 000 trees were planted, followed by around 1 300 000 trees in 2008/09 and 1 277 805 trees in 2009/10.
The figures were included in a written response by Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to a question posed in Parliament in Cape Town last week.
Joemat-Pettersson said 40% of these had been fruit trees, and that the planting had mostly been done in poorer parts of the country.
The minister attributed the success of the programme to partnerships forged with organisations such as Total SA, the SABC, Food and Trees for Africa, Love Life, and Proudly South African.
Over the past three years, the programme has created legacy recreational parks in Orange Farm outside Johannesburg as well as in the Batlharos, Sarafina and Phahameng locations in the Gasegonyana, Tlokwe and Mangaung municipal areas respectively.
Trees provided food, including vitamins and sometimes proteins that were not always found in other crops, the minister said. “Diets in these areas are dominated by cereal crops that are mainly rich in starch. Therefore fruits are needed to keep a balanced and healthy nutrition.”
Trees also helped to clean the air, reduce heat, and support good mental health and well-being, she said.
“For these benefits to happen, fruit trees must be planted strategically, guided by careful planning and leadership.
“At the same time, the ongoing survival of these trees is dependent on support from local government structures, engaged residents and the ability to curb attacks by pests and diseases.”