This year the City’s Recreation and Parks Department dedicated the launch of its Arbor Month festivities to the families of residents who lost their loved ones to Covid-19. Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato, and Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien, helped to plant a memorial garden of tall Liquidamber styraciflua trees in an empty space at Maynardville Park.
‘These trees represent life and will remind us of the contribution made by our residents and staff to our neighbourhoods and City. It also creates awareness around the value of caring for nature and how it beautifies our surroundings. We will honour them through nurturing these trees and I look forward to seeing these plants mature to serve as a reminder of the beauty around us, even in difficult times,’ said Executive Mayor Dan Plato.
‘The trees that we planted today create a circle symbolising the circle of life. Today we held six Covid-19 remembrance ceremonies at gardens that are living memorials to the many loved ones we’ve lost. We remember them not only today, but as these trees grow and thrive it will be a testimony to their lives. In total, 18 new trees were added to the established gardens,’ said Councillor Badroodien.
The theme for Arbor Month in 2021 is Forest Restoration: A path to recovery and well-being. It is a call to action for communities to become aware of and to value the critical role that trees play in sustainable development as well as the contribution that trees make to livelihoods and the environment.
Trees have multiple functions and contribute many resources for social, environmental and economic benefits including:
- Producing oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide
- Soil conservation by falling tree leaves and needles which decompose providing soil nutrients
- Absorbing sound waves in various parts of the tree body
- Acting as windbreakers and insulators
- Enhancing property values with the aesthetic beauty of landscapes rich in trees
- Preventing soil erosion through tree roots and reducing flooding through wide canopies
- Producing medicine, fruit, nuts, paper and other materials useful for human livelihoods
- The tree of the year is Spekboom (Portulacaria afra).
Found in the Eastern parts of South Africa, this evergreen succulent has medicinal properties, high in Vitamin C and small, round leaves with a zesty flavour which can be eaten raw in salads.
It can reach up to 5m in height in its shrubbery form and beautifies many urban sidewalks. In spring, the leaves turn yellow when exposed to full sun, sometimes bearing star-shaped, pink flowers.
Residents may catch sight of trees with green bows, placed in various parks and cemeteries in the City, which from an aerial view form a circle.
Participating sites include Maitland Cemetery, Jack Muller Park, Mandela Park, Westridge, Princess Vlei and Maynardville Park.
Green is the colour of renewal and life. It also symbolises growth, prosperity and new beginnings.
Residents can participate in Arbor Month by:
- Tying a green bow on a tree at home to remember a loved one
- Planting a tree against climate change
- Conserving water and using alternative water sources when planting trees
- Preventing veld and forest fires
- Protecting indigenous forests
‘I encourage our residents to plant trees not only to commemorate the lives of those lost, but also considering the many benefits we derive from trees. They add beauty to our environment and help to clean the air so we can live healthier lives,’ added Councillor Badroodien.
City of Cape Town, Media Office