National Arbor Week
South Africa celebrates National Arbor Week from 1-7 September annually and it is an opportune time to call on all South Africans to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), as the custodian of forestry in South Africa, is responsible for the campaign. National Arbor Week celebrations intend to promote a better understanding of trees, in particular indigenous trees; encourage the planting of trees and greening activities within communities; highlight the importance of trees for a sustainable future and the role trees play in livelihoods of people and their environment; and raise awareness amongst South Africans about greening initiatives.
People have depended on trees through the ages. They offer shelter and shade, are a source of food, medicine, timber and have numerous other uses. Trees are essential for replenishing our oxygen supply and taking in the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, a contributor to the greenhouse effect. Trees prevent soil erosion by binding the soil with their roots and add nutrients to the soil with their leaf litter.
National Arbor Week with Keep Hout Bay Beautiful
Keep Hout Bay Beautiful received a generous tree donation from Gwen at Earthworx; 3 Harpephyllum caffrum (wild plum) trees to plant during National Arbor Week. Keep Hout Bay Beautiful planted these trees together with the Planet Warriors and Envirochild at the Kronendal Primary School next to the hockey field. The trees will provide some nice shade for the benches next to the field, when fully grown and the fruits of the tree will attract many birds.
See some pictures of our planting session with these amazing kids in our gallery, here.
The go! magazine provided us with free quiver tree seeds from their #111 edition, which we planted together with the Planet Warriors to raise awareness about indigenous trees as well as to teach some interesting facts about these magnificent trees. See below some interesting facts about these majestic trees:
- the “normal” quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum); dense rounded crown and thick trunk
- the maiden’s quiver tree (Aloidendron ramosissimum); smaller with often multiple trunks
- the giant quiver tree (Aloidendron pillansii); taller trunk with fewer more upright branches and sparse crown
In 1998, only 200 quiver trees were left in the wild and the species was declared critically endangered. The number has now increased to about 1200, thanks to conservation measures.
A quiver tree has an average life-span of 250 years.
The earliest known botanical notes made, during Governor Simon van der Stel’s journey through Namaqualand in search of copper, were in the year 1685.
The natural habitat of a quiver tree is semi-arid and includes the Succulent Karoo, the Nama Karoo and the Namib Desert and is about 20 million hectares. In order for the tree to survive these harsh conditions, it stores water in their trunks, branches and leaves. In the Northern Cape of South Africa, on the farm Gannabos is the largest quiver tree forest in the world extending over 300 hectares. Another forest is located about 14 km north of Keetmanshoop in Namibia.