Celebration of Arbor week

Speech by the Acting Premier of the Northern Cape, Mr Kenny Mmoiemang on the occasion of the celebration of Arbor week, 02 September 2011, Kathu, John Taolo Gaetsewe District
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Programme Director
The Executive Mayor of John Taole Gaetsewe District Municipality, Ms Sofia Mosikatsi
The Mayor of Gamagara Local Municipality, Ms Maria Diniza
Mayors and Councillors
Mr LD Nemakonde, Regional Head: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
Distinguished Guests
Members of the Public
Ladies and gentlemen
As the Provincial Government and the leadership collective, we are indeed delighted to join the community of Kathu to celebrate Arbor Week. As we are all aware, Arbor week is an internationally recognised week that is celebrated by the global community, focussing our attention on the importance and value of trees in our daily lives and to raise awareness about the need to plant more trees and protect existing ones.

The preservation of our natural environment and heritage awareness week highlights the crucial role that our people must play for the benefit of our current and future generations, as well as the wellbeing of our planet and its biodiversity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, what a difference trees make in our lives! Beautiful and functional, even one tree can provide oxygen to breathe, filter pollutants from our air, save energy, provide habitat for wildlife, convey serenity, improve outdoor leisure and recreation experiences, and beautify the landscape.

Every tree we plant, and every tree we protect and nurture, plays an essential role in making our communities and the environment better, greener, healthier, and more beautiful.
Programme Director, we are also extremely pleased at the fact that Kathu has been chosen to host this year’s event because of the Town’s unique and beautiful camel thorn trees that it has been endowed with. Kathu boasts its own unique camel thorn woodland type forest in the country and one of its kind in the Southern part of Africa.

Forestry today is about the relationship between people and the resources provided by the forests. As in other countries, people living in and around forests collect a wide range of items growing in the forests to sustain and supplement their livelihoods.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are also appalled by the uncaring and irresponsible actions by some of our people which are leading to the destruction of our natural environment. These unacceptable actions has led to an increase in air and water pollution, massive destruction of forests in certain parts of the world, the destruction of our public lands and the dismantling of our vital environmental safeguards.

We cannot overly emphasize the point that the enforcement of our environmental laws and preservation of our natural heritage must be upheld at all times. It is thus incumbent upon this government to mobilise all our people including all three spheres of government and the private sector in taking greening issues forward. We ask you to join this critical effort. Citizens in all communities can make a difference when they augment the efforts of government to protect and nourish the environment.

This joint effort will undoubtedly bolster the message that trees are essential in our world, and should inspire all of us to get involved in planting and protecting trees, or support this mission in some manner. Tree-planting is a powerful way to deal with environmental concerns such as global climate change.

Programme Director, on the greening front, the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has put together a greening strategy that will see all provinces receiving support to green their areas. The implementation of this greening strategy will go a long way to ensure that townships, informal settlements and previously disadvantaged areas are turned from barren areas into green, healthy and lively surroundings.

Through the greening programme, it is envisaged that the programme will address the following:
• Mitigation of the adverse effects of climate change. Trees sequestrate carbon and gives off oxygen.
• Purification of the air in localities. Trees trap dust and other pollutant particles thereby contributing to air purification.
• Beautification and creation of an aesthetically pleasing environment through greenery and promotion of biodiversity in urban areas.
• Promotion of eco-tourism; and
• Contribution to food security through the planting of fruit trees and establishment of small orchards where feasible.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the provincial government views the environmental sector as a critical part in our drive and vision for a prosperous Province, and as a rapidly emerging sector, it holds huge potential for job creation as has already been proven through some of the projects.

The launch of a massive Cleaning and Greening Project such as the one termed “Keep Kimberley Clean” by the Department of Environment and Nature Conservation, in partnership with Municipalities, private nurseries and non-governmental organizations is also in progress. The Cleaning and Greening Project will be an integral part of the Provincial Township Rejuvenation Programme that anchors the provincial drive for prosperity. It is our intention this year to turn around the state of our streets and surroundings, especially in our townships, entrances to our towns and central business districts through sustainable cleaning and tree planting projects.

As I speak today, I wish to take this opportunity to encourage Municipalities to already develop a greening plan to benefit from this greening strategy.

This year’s Arbor Week is celebrated in line with the United Nations theme “Celebrating forests for people”. Linked to this theme are messages that are calling us as South Africans to act, to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable forest management and development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

As we celebrate Arbor week, we call on all our communities and people to:
• stop cutting down trees
• plant trees to contribute to the million trees programme by planting a tree during Arbor week
• contribute to the greening of our country and say no to desertification
• stop veld and forest fires – they destroy life, let’s prevent them; and
• plant fruit and vegetable trees to help alleviate hunger and poverty.

Ladies and gentlemen
Trees are the lungs of the earth
By planting trees and greening the country we are saying no to desertification. Fruit trees and other food security programmes help alleviate hunger and poverty. Trees, through commercial plantations, also contribute towards economic opportunities and job creation, especially in the rural areas.

Programme Director, as we celebrate Arbor Week, we have to be mindful of the fact that the global climate is changing and that it is likely to continue changing for many years to come. Climate change brings about extreme weather, droughts, and floods, melting of the permanent ice of the north and south poles as well as rising ocean levels. All this is the result of air pollution caused by human activities.

Trees and other vegetation play a vital role to mitigate the negative effects of climate change by accumulating carbon which is stored as part of the dry weight of the plant biomass. Trees are especially valuable because they produce wood, in which large quantities of carbon is locked up for many years.

We must from a very young age, instil a sense of responsibility for the environment we live in, especially trees. We encourage everyone to participate in tree planting and greening activities. Our communities and schools are encouraged to participate in tree planting and greening programmes for the beautification and improvement of their immediate environment.

We need to take care of our trees at our homes, in our streets and in parks alike. The presence of trees in our surroundings adds to the values that we derive from the environment. Furthermore, we need to conserve and protect these trees from damage and vandalism. Remember that trees are an important green heritage of our country. Please take care of them.

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank John Taolo Gaetsewe District municipality and the Gamagara Local municipality for hosting this important event in partnership with the Department of Agriculture. I would also like to thank the Municipality for their efforts in extending greening to previously disadvantaged areas, in particular Kathu.

I hope that when we return to our homes, we take with us more knowledge about trees as well as the importance of trees to our environment and society, so that we can make a positive impact on our communities and the generations that would follow.


I thank you

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