Arbor Week
22-May-2009 12:16 PM  


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. The Chief 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.

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