City of Joburg by-law promotes greening

14 October 2014

A new City of Johannesburg by-law will require residents to go a little further in greening their city. Residents will be required to include trees and other “green’ features when they submit building plans for approval.

Johannesburg City Parks, a department within the City of Johannesburg that manages the city’s parks, cemeteries, open green areas, street trees and conserved spaces, says the new by-law is a way to bridge the gap between the urban forest in the northern suburbs and the largely bare southern parts of the city.

Tree management policy

City Parks spokesperson Jenny Moodley says a draft tree management policy was being developed by the City of Joburg to encourage residents to plant trees.

“It should not be negotiable for every new house in the city to have a tree. The idea is to have each house with an indigenous tree, fruit tree and a food garden that can comfortably feed a family of four.

“This is the draft policy that we initiated as part of the growth and development strategy that the mayor announced last year.”

Fruit trees that can survive on the highveld, such as peach, and indigenous trees such as cassia, would be planted. Already, thousands of trees have been planted across the city’s seven regions in keeping with its greening initiatives.

Arbor Week

During this year’s Arbor Week which ran from 1 to 7 September, 3 733 trees were planted mostly in the southern parts of the city, with the planting of 16 000 more trees planned for Eldorado Park and Kliptown in Soweto, according to Moodley.

Adding, she said the City of Joburg would give 10 000 indigenous trees, including 6 000 fruit trees, to households, and another 1500 trees would be planted as part of the city’s capital projects.

One of the problems that City Parks has to contend with is that the stakes supporting the saplings are often stolen, especially in Alexandra and Midrand. In areas such as Soweto trees have been felled to make room for homes, according to Moodley.

Moodley said City Parks also had to contend with certain cultural beliefs which promote cutting down of trees. However, the City is addressing this by engaging with communities through educational tours.

Greening initiatives

The City Parks website states that the City of Joburg currently boasts of 10- million trees. The Greening Soweto project, launched in 2006 with the planting of 6 000 trees, is Joburg’s biggest green revolution. It aims to turn the vast, dusty township into an urban forest. Just before the 2010 World Cup, the City stepped up the tree planting drive by planting 200 000 trees ahead of the event, creating a legacy for the residents of Soweto.

City Parks grows its own trees and supplies them to communities for greening projects. Its nursery produces up to 100 000 tree seedlings per year; at five years, these seedlings are ready for planting on pavements and in parks.

Other City Parks projects are planting trees to mark births and deaths; educating people about the importance of planting trees; upgrading Delta Park, one of the biggest open spaces in Joburg.

SAinfo reporter