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22 August 2012 Media briefing by Dr Pieter Mulder, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Arbor Week South

Africa will be celebrating Arbor Week from 1-7 September to raise awareness about the importance and value of trees in our lives. The theme for this years campaign is Our Forests - Our Future. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is the custodian of Forestry in South Africa and therefore the National Arbor Week celebrations. Arbor Day was originally celebrated by South Africa in 1983. The South African Government extended the celebration of Arbor Day into National Arbor Week. During National Arbor Week we recognise the importance of trees in our communities and encourage awareness of the need to protect our indigenous trees. By planting trees in communities we are also helping to mitigate the effects of global warming and climate change. Trees can beautify the community and promote biodiversity by providing diverse habitats. They also promote sustainable living by providing food, shade and oxygen. To this end, National Arbor Week supports Governments priority to protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources (Outcome 10). The Arbor Week celebrations consist of the national launch event and a series of other events in various provinces and districts. This year, the launch event will take place on 1 September 2012, in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape Province.

The launch event will involve the establishment of 200 food gardens in Platfontein and the planting of over 1000 indigenous and fruit trees in the area. In addition, about 20 trees will be planted at Galeshewe Stadium, the venue for the main event, as part of the remembrance campaign. These trees will be planted to commemorate all people who dedicated their lives to the liberation, nation building and community upliftment in the Northern Cape. A generic plaque will be unveiled on the day. Cabinet Ministers, executive mayors and ward councillors are expected to participate in tree planting initiatives during Arbor Week. Another highlight of the event will be the awarding of prizes to the winners of the Arbor City Award. The Arbor City Award is a competition that was introduced to promote the greening of cities and towns in South Africa. This award is given to cities/ towns that go an extra mile to green their areas of jurisdiction. DAFF supports and facilitates the planting of trees as part of the implementation of the National Greening Strategy and the celebrations of National Arbor Week. The trees that we plant can be categorized into two groups: indigenous and fruit. When the fruit trees are integrated with other programmes such as vegetable gardens they address household food security. On the other hand, indigenous trees are preferred because they are adapted to our local and natural conditions in the country. They are indigenous to South Africa, and can withstand the prevailing climatic conditions. Even during time of hardship, when we have droughts, their chances of survival are greater than those of exotic species. The planting of indigenous trees promotes biodiversity. In addition, South Africa is a water-scarce country, and indigenous trees use less water compared to the exotic species.

We are also using Arbor week as a built-up towards the World Forestry Congress that will be hosted by South Africa in 2015. The World Forestry Congress will be a meeting of role-players and stakeholders from all over the world to discuss crucial and critical forestry matters affecting the world. ENQUIRIES Wouter Wessels, Spokesperson for the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Contact number: 082 674 6670 Selby Bokaba, Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries Contact number: 082 778 0245