National Arbor Week in South Africa

Many countries across the globe will recognize the importance of educating youths about the benefits of keeping our environment as green as possible. With this in mind, many countries celebrate Arbor Day once a year – a day on which trees are planted and emphasis is placed on the importance they play in the circle of life. In South Africa, Arbor Day is celebrated for an entire week.

National Arbor Week in South Africa is a time when South Africans of all ages are encouraged to celebrate the beauty and importance of trees. People from all aspects of the community are urged to get involved and thousands are educated and made aware of the benefits of the many different aspects of forestry. For the sake of simplification, the term ‘forestry’ is divided into three different categories during National Arbor Week.

The first is that of Indigenous Forests, which not only provide a home for wildlife but which provide attractions for thousands of visitors and increase revenue. Indigenous Forests may also provide trees and herbs which are often used for natural remedies on which hundreds of people depend. They provide a barrier against soil erosion and they continue to sustain their environment and support the African wildlife. Commercial Forests, on the other hand, are completely unnatural. But their role is equally important since they not only provide people with jobs, but they also provide the wood which is needed in industry. Metropolitan Forests refers to the trees, plants and lawns which are grown in cities and towns across the country. Without these small pieces of greenery amidst the concrete and brick, our environments would be dull and lifeless. Breathing would also be difficult since there would be little in our environment capable of producing fresh air for us to utilize.

During the course of National Arbor Week, South Africans are provided with a better knowledge of trees and how they affect their day-to-day lives. Awareness about the dangers of forest fires is raised and emphasis is placed on the importance of the forestry industry and on trees in general. Trees are planted and landscapes are made greener. Many of the week’s events are organized by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) but sponsorship may take many different forms. Food and Trees For Africa (FTFA) also take advantage of the week to help people from poorer communities learn how to develop and maintain a food garden. Truly the importance of this week – which usually takes place during the first week of September – cannot be underestimated.