As important as trees are, they can only make a difference if people let them be. We take a closer look at the state of tree-planting in SA.
There are many tree-planting programs underway in SA. Among those leading the way are Jeunesse Park and her many award-winning organisation Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), which has been planting trees for over 22 years.
In this time they have planted a lot of trees and changed many lives in the process. They have also learnt a lot about what the beautiful, noble tree can, and cannot do. Trees don’t just stand alone – they are part of a community – of other trees, plants and species, including the humans that use and rely on them. Without committed people around them, trees have no future.
Trees are invaluable as carbon sequesters, providing oxygen and improving air quality in many SA’s barren, dusty townships. Trees also provide food, act as natural windbreaks and settle dust – not to mention the benefits of shade, increased natural biodiversity and helping to improve civic pride. And all of this is perfectly possible with one prerequisite: that the tree actually stays in the ground.
While this sounds like a simple outcome, it is actually far harder than it sounds. A tree after all, is only as strong as the people surrounding it. Human beings the world over, from individuals to governments acting through their policies, have shown just how easy it is to cut down a tree, but not how to keep it in the ground. As global deforestation continue unabated, this couldn’t be a more pressing time to ask ourselves why this is the sad reality we currently face.
To date, FTFA has planted over 4.1 million trees across SA. While this is a considerable contribution to the fight against climate change, it is a battle that cannot be won alone. FTFA has learnt that showing people how to plant a tree is only the first step.
Trees also need to be cared for, watered and tended so that the potential carbon they can sequester over their lifetime can actually be achieved. The seed of knowledge must be planted in the minds of communities, companies and all involved in the process.
Simply Green, Issue 3