National Arbor Week is celebrated in South Africa from 1 to 7 September annually. It is a government initiated campaign to celebrate South Africa’s trees and raise awareness of their importance. This year, 2016 the theme was Forests and Water. You can get more information here on National Arbor Week 2016.
On Tuesday 6 September, our staff and some volunteers from Witsand spent some two hours in a community outreach at Slangrivier Primary School, working with seventy Grade 3 learners on the subject of Arbor Day. The children were divided into three groups and rotated, taking turns at each of the three activities.
The first group were introduced to a talk on the importance of trees by one of our rangers. They learned about the importance of trees to our environment, different methods of propagation and some interesting historical facts.
The second group having learned that cutting slips and dipping them into hormone powder before planting them is one way of propagating trees got in some practise. It was also a good opportunity to learn the value of upcycling waste. The containers used were cut off milk boxes with drainage holes. The planting medium was well aerated soil collected from mole heaps.
The tree of the year is the Ficus thonningii … Common wild fig. The LBRCT’s budget did not extend to providing these particular trees for planting. However, we now have nursery and will shortly start propagating trees for next year’s Arbor Week.
2017’s tree of the year is Ziziphus mucronata … hairy buffalo-thorn or harige blinkblaar wag-n-bietjie.
It was decided to use Numnum cuttings for the tree planting activity at Slangrivier. Scientifically known as the Carissa macropcarpa, Numnum’s are particularly useful in Witsand gardens as hedges or even ornamental bushes. As hedges they serve as a windbreak and are particularly hardy. They flowers are very pretty, attracting bees to the gardens and birds are attracted to the fruit, bright or deep red berries.
The cuttings will be nurtured in our nursery and sold to raise funds for another project we support, Die Vlakte Edugarden and Sports Facilities Development.
The third group busied themselves painting drums, rescued from the dump, to use as trash cans and be placed at strategic points along the banks of the Breede River for rubbish collection particularly in the holiday season.
All in all, a lot of fun was had and a good deal of learning. The Numnum cuttings were brought back to the nursery and in exchange for their help, Slangrivier Primary received a batch of kale plants to add to their thriving vegetable garden.