Gauteng has one of the largest manmade forests in the world, yet some areas in the province have very few trees. This Arbor Month, Food & Trees for Africa partnered with Ackermans to plant 1000 trees in Mamelodi, bringing the total number of trees Ackermans have planted to 3750. This community tree planting is part of our goals to create a green belt in Mamelodi that contributes towards clean air, local employment and food security.
What is a green belt?
You might have heard the term “green belt” but it’s not just a level of accomplishment in karate. At Food & Trees for Africa, we describe a “green belt” as an area which we steadily green through tree plantings, ward by ward, school by school. By the time we move to the next greening initiative, the area will be planted with enough indigenous and fruit trees to change the landscape to one teeming with life and biodiversity – a beautiful, healthy environment that anyone would be proud to live in.
While many tree planting initiatives focus on planting trees, we believe in engaging, training and empowering community members about the importance of urban greening for climate change, where and how to plant trees, and how to maintain them. Food & Trees for Africa facilitators met with 15 community members to train them as community educators (CEs). These CE’s are then employed to assist with the planting, care, monitoring and evaluation of the trees. Each CE is included in the tree planting event with specific duties and becomes responsible for supporting their community in the long-term maintenance of the trees. This can inspire greater environmental awareness within the community as our CE’s share their knowledge and passion.
Inspiring pride in homes and communities
We distributed 750 indigenous trees sponsored by Ackermans (500 fruit, 250 shade) to 375 residents of Nelmapius, Mamelodi on 13 September 2019. A further twenty trees were planted at Jan Kotlolo Primary School, which hosted the event.
Not only will repeated tree plantings green Mamelodi, they will improve air quality and act as catalysts for socio-economic development. Where trees have been planted, research has shown a marked decrease in littering and dumping, while residents in greener areas take greater pride in their homes and better care of their gardens.
Together with Ackermans, we’ve already planted 5000 trees in 1875 homes, reached 58 schools and trained 60 community members across South Africa. Just take a moment to imagine the impact of thousands of green belts in communities across South Africa.
Together, anything is possible.