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Thursday Sep 11, 2014

Boost for Pretoria's white stinkwood forest

During Arbor Month, the City of Tshwane is focusing on preserving its natural heritage with the replanting of the white stinkwood forest at Fountains Valley.

While the city is doing its part, September is also an opportunity for residents to plant indigenous trees as a practical and symbolic gesture towards sustainable environmental management.

The city is committed to planting a mixture of about 5 000 fruit and indigenous trees during Arbor Month. The trees will be planted at a number of city schools, old age homes, orphanages, cemeteries, households and parks.

The city's Environmental Management Services Department is engaging in a number activities to contribute to environmental sustainability. Last week, the department planted dozens of trees at schools during Arbor Week. It was an opportunity to highlight to pupils the role that trees play in a healthy environment. Trees provide food, help clean the air and help prevent soil erosion. Many trees also have medicinal properties.

The department is also focusing on the city's natural history. Vast forests once covered hundreds of kilometres of land from Tshwane, past eMalahleni to Middelburg in Mpumalanga. The reduction of the last surviving portion of this forest, found in the Fountains Valley just outside Pretoria, is taking place rapidly because of the unsustainable use of the forest.

The resort has been a popular recreational area from the mid1800s till today. Unfortunately, by continuously cutting the grass to maintain the picnic sites, white stinkwood seedlings have been destroyed. The older trees were not replenished by a younger generation and eventually the forest became less dense.

A rehabilitation programme is being co-ordinated by the department to replant as many white stinkwood ( Celtis africana) trees as possible. This month, 300 white stinkwood tress will be planted.

Fountains Valley has the biggest concentration of indigenous white stinkwood trees in Pretoria. White stinkwoods occur from the southern Cape to Ethiopia in north Africa. They are very adaptable and grow on sand dunes, rocky outcrops and in lush forests.

The next time you visit the Fountains Valley Resort, take the time to appreciate these white stinkwood trees, which are as much a part of the city's natural history as the fountains that have drawn people to the area for centuries.

Pretoria News


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