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Joburg scoops prestigious National Arbor City Award

JOHANNESBURG – Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), wins the National Arbor City Award for 2019.

The City of Johannesburg, through Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ), has been presented with the prestigious National Arbor City Award for 2019.

The announcement was made by the deputy minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Maggie Sotyu in Port Elizabeth on 1 September to launch National Arbor Month in the country. The Arbor City Award with the first prize of R300 000 will be used to purchase seeds, saplings and trees to grow Joburg’s man-made forest and to address greening disparities in the City.

The national awards have grown to become one of the toughest competitions in the country and it is a huge honour for the City of Joburg to be presented with the award for the fourth time in the awards’ 18-year history.

The award recognises local and metropolitan cities that have excelled in all levels of sustainable development. It interrogates policies, inter-governmental planning, capital development programmes, makes comparisons with visible implementation on the ground and then assesses monitoring mechanisms towards the creation of vibrant, sustainable and livable cities.

The adjudicators were particularly pleased with JCPZ’s handling of the polyphagous shot-hole borer (PSHB) infestation in the City.

“JCPZ saved hundreds of trees on the backdrop of calls and unending social media pressure to remove all infested trees. In the absence of proper research and an approved chemical solution to treat infested trees, JCPZ only removed dead infested trees. Many of the trees, albeit infested, are not displaying symptoms of fusarium dieback at this stage,” advised JCPZ’s arboriculturist, Adelaide Chokoe.

Chokoe, who has commenced her PhD focusing on the polyphagous shot-hole borer, also received an award for her outstanding contribution to greening in the City of Joburg at the awards ceremony.

“To be recognised by the highest level of government is testament to the collective expertise, passion and commitment of every employee at JCPZ and within the City, who are consciously working to protect Joburg’s manmade forest,” stated the member of the mayoral committee for community development in the City of Joburg, councillor Nonhlanhla Sifumba.

Recently, Rwanda, Ethiopia and India have brought together business and communities to plant millions of trees in their respective countries. The benefits of planting just one tree are far-reaching. Every tree works as a natural filtration system and consists of at least 50 per cent carbon captured from the air, acts as a conduit to foster national pride and ownership and helps creates aesthetically pleasing and economically vibrant suburbs.

It is time to restore the sense of urgency to accelerate tree planting in the city. They city has an ageing tree canopy, with many species reaching its full life expectancy and as a result, these trees have become more prone to opportunistic diseases and the effect of inclement weather.

Arbor Month in September is, therefore, a vital springboard for schools, resident-associations, business, government and the media to work as an integrated unit, to get their hands dirty for a good cause, by planting trees across the city.

Every region in the city will be hosting a tree-planting ceremony and Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo has called on all companies to offset their carbon footprint by planting trees. Please forward the number of trees, the species and the area where you will be planting, to trees@jhbcityparks.com

For a detailed list of the preferred trees, species visit www.jhbcityparks.com

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