National Arbor Week (Iviki Lezihlahla) serves to promote
awareness for the need to plant and maintain indigenous trees throughout
South Africa, especially for the many disadvantaged communities who often
live in barren areas. Every
Arbor Week celebration highlights two specific
trees, one common and one rare species.
Arbor Week intend to:
- Promote a better understanding of trees, particularly
indigenous trees Highlight the important role trees play in sustainable
development and the livelihoods of people and their environment Encourage communities to participate in various greening
activities within their own surroundings
- Raise awareness of South Africa’s urban greening initiatives
Forests form an important part of South
Africa’s natural resource base and make a significant contribution to
the economy. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry plays a key
role in developing, managing and regulating the country’s forest resources.
Directorate: Forestry manages commercial and indigenous forests, offers
community forestry services and provides the policy and regulatory framework
for the sector as a whole. The Chief
Directorate is responsible for the National Arbor Week campaign.
Background to the celebrating of Arbor Week
Arbor Day originated in 1872 in the United States territory of Nebraska.
Mr J Sterling Morton, a newcomer to the treeless plains of Nebraska, was
a keen proponent of the beauty and benefit of trees. He persuaded the
local agricultural board to set aside a day for planting trees and through
his position as editor of Nebraska's first newspaper, encouraged participation
in the event by publishing articles on the value of trees for soil protection,
fruit and shade and building. Mr. Morton's home, known as Arbor Lodge,
was a testament to his love for trees and so inspired the name of the
holiday; Arbor Day.
In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured
the imagination of people who recognized the need for raising awareness
of the value of trees in our society. As sources of building material,
food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the
health and well-being of our communities. Collective enthusiasm for the
importance of this issue in South Africa inspired the national government,
in 1999, to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week.
From 1 to 7 September every year, schools, businesses and organizations
are encouraged to participate in community "greening" events
to improve the health and beauty of the local environment and propose
a green future for South Africa.