It’s been 11 years since Konica Minolta South Africa first partnered with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA). In that time, we’ve planted 50 001 trees together.
We celebrated the 50 001-tree milestone in February 2020 by planting 1 500 trees across Soweto. The Donaldson Orlando Community Centre (DOCC) YMCA in Orlando East, Soweto, is known for being Nelson Mandela’s boxing gym when he was a young man. Nowadays, learners come here after school to do homework and join educational programmes. Thus, it was the perfect venue for a tree-planting event for Konica Minolta South Africa volunteers and students from A.B. Xuma Primary School.
Konica Minolta South Africa has been following in Mandela’s footsteps by planting trees at the schools and community spaces he touched during his life. These include his birthplace at Mvezo, his home at Qunu, Robben Island and – now – Soweto. We planted the 1 500 trees allocated to Soweto at schools and community centres, including one at Madiba’s first home in Orlando East. Planting trees and educating communities about their importance pays homage to Mandela. As he said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Long-term effects of trees
Many recent studies have demonstrated how planting trees positively affects living spaces and learning outcomes. One study found that learners in a green environment (even if this is only viewed from a window) have lower stress levels and better attention spans. Another pointed to improved academic performance. Simply being in a greener environment can boost learners’ memory levels, researchers discovered. (This could be due to reduced pollution.) Green spaces also improve chances for social interaction, allowing learners to communicate better with peers and teachers, and connect with nature.
With 50 001 trees, Konica Minolta South Africa has impacted 1 037 beneficiary organisations, 985 of which are schools. At each planting, learners, teachers and community members learn about planting and caring for trees and protecting the environment. A whopping 98% of studies highlight the positive impact of environmental education on learners. One notable result is increased participation and engagement (and, thus, improved performance) in schoolwork. Green spaces also create opportunities for hands-on, outdoor learning, which can inspire learners to become eco-stewards.
Konica Minolta South Africa is not stopping at 50 001! From indigenous shade trees to fast-growing bamboo and bountiful fruit trees, they have committed to planting as many as possible. Over the 11 years of the project, 18 450.55 tons of C02e was offset. Cleaner air, greener spaces, improved food security and increased environmental awareness are just some of the benefits that these trees will provide for generations to come.