Cape Town celebrates Arbor Week wisely

Planting water-wise trees at Nantes Park, Athlone

Cape Town is commemorating Arbor Week this year with a specific focus on contributing to water resilience.

As Arbor Week kicks off, the City’s Recreation and Parks Department is focusing on conserving water while also preserving Cape Town’s natural landscapes. 
To mark the start of Arbor Week, 1 September 2017, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services Alderman JP Smith, joined Recreation and Parks Department officials in planting water-wise trees in areas that use treated effluent as a water source. (Photo above)
‘This is in line with the City’s New Normal approach to the unpredictability of climatic conditions where water scarcity must be acknowledged as a reality,’ said Alderman Smith.
The first trees were planted in Nantes Park in Athlone. A further five trees will be planted at the Scottsdene sports field on 4 September and two at the Langa sports field on 5 September.
‘Trees are a valuable part of our community’s urban landscape, but also serve several important functions. Trees planted perpendicular to prevailing wind direction reduce wind far more effectively than a solid structure like a wall. Green space and shaded areas encourage outdoor activity and therefore indirectly decrease healthcare costs,’ said Alderman Smith.
The City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Area Central, Councillor Siyabulela Mamkeli, said that today’s planting was about more than just trees.
‘Today we commemorate this space and reflect on what trees actually represent. The peace we seek as a community is represented in these as trees are a symbol of the growth and strength of the people in our city and so we hope to grow our future as these trees continue to grow. We must continue to beautify spaces like this where residents can gather and socialise with their neighbours, in line with our Organisational Development and Transformation Plan which seeks to build integrated communities,’ said Councillor Mamkeli.
During the recent storms and windy conditions experienced in Cape Town, more than 150 trees were damaged or destroyed. Many more are damaged and destroyed throughout the year due to vandalism and theft.  
‘Although we are not in a position to replace all of these trees, the Recreation and Parks Department is trying to make a start in planting some indigenous water-wise trees in locations where trees and shade are scarce and that will benefit the surrounding communities. The current water restrictions prohibit the use of drinking water for outdoor use. 
‘We are not able to do any large-scale tree-planting at this stage and we are thus focusing our efforts on maintenance of Cape Town’s existing tree resources. The Department has chosen locations where trees are being planted this week as they use treated effluent water systems in order to preserve the City’s natural beauty while also conserving water.
‘Leaving tree-rich spaces behind for our future generations will improve the planet by making it a better place to live,’ said Alderman Smith.
Level 4b restrictions are in place which prohibit the use of municipal drinking water for outdoor purposes, such as gardens. Municipal drinking water may only be used for essential indoor use and must be limited to below 87 litres per person per day whether you are at home, school, work or elsewhere. 
Those who are making use of borehole water must also use water carefully and within the limitations that exist as per water restrictions.