In celebration of the start of spring, the kick off of Tourism month and in honour of Arbor week, the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency have handed out a number of plants to passing motorists entering the province.
A total of 500 Spekboom trees were handed out to motorists passing the Mafunyane Water park and Audi intersection at Riverside Mall, welcoming them to the abundant beauty and biodiversity found within the province and in the hopes that they would go on and plant them in local soil signifying the growth of not only the tourism sector, but that of local social cohesion.
While much focus has been applied to tourism month in the lead up to World Tourism day on 27 September, the 1st week in September also sees South Africa celebrating Arbor week and Arbor month as an annual acknowledgement of the importance of agriculture, forestry and the sustainable management of our natural resources.
This year’s Arbor week theme is "Forests and Sustainable Cities" celebrated during a time of the year when South Africans are encouraged to plant indigenous trees as both a practical and symbolic commitment to the effective management of renewal natural resources.
Why the Spekboom?
Spekboom also known by its scientific name as Portulacaria Afra is an indigenous evergreen bushy tree fondly referred to by locals as Elephants Food or Pork Bus. Retaining its foliage all year long, this plant is especially effective in the removal of carbon emissions unlike any other plant species is known to do, while also being incredibly water efficient. Hardy, sun loving and tolerable of poor soil conditions, the Spekboom can grow as high as 5 meters tall and live up to 200 years! What makes this plant even more exceptional is its ability to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere even more efficiently than the Amazon rainforest, making it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change.
Effortlessly adjusting to any environment or climatic changes, the Spekboom is also an edible and a highly nutritional plant both to humans and animals such as the Black Rhino, Elephants and Kudus.
Offering endless benefits to both man, animals and the earth, Spekboom is an effective, environmentally friendly solution in assisting in the conservation and restoration of degraded soil, over grazed rural settlements and urban air pollution.
As a custodian of forestry in South Africa, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), remains committed to "greening" local communities whereby the term (greening) refers to an integrated approach to the planting, care and sustainable management of both urban and rural vegetation.With a number of campaigns taking place in various towns, townships and informal settlements, efforts extended by the public and private sectors, community based organisations as well as the general public at large sees areas of disadvantage benefit from Arbor week /month initiatives with the hopes of uplifting underprivileged communities through eco-education and subsistence farming initiatives