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Here's to trees this Arbour Week!

04 September 2013

This Arbour Week, show how much you love the earth by planting a tree. You'll reap the benefits for years to come.

Every year, Arbour Week is celebrated from 1 to 7 September. What started off as a day dedicated to the planting and taking care of trees, in South Africa has turned into a well-deserved full week. During this period, a variety of greening activities take place across the country to improve the health and beauty of the local environment.

Arbour Week 2013

Plant a tree…we dare you!

The Trees for Africa Arbour Challenge aims to ignite new excitement and an understanding of the value of trees in our lives and for our planet. By the end of September, Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) hopes to see thousands of trees planted and/or cared for through the Trees for Africa Arbour Challenge. 

The Challenge aims to rally all South Africans to plant or look after as many trees as possible – at home, at school or at the office. And, being a supporter of all things green, Pick n Pay has been a proud FTFA partner, having planted more than 20,000 trees over the last 10 years. We’d like to encourage treehuggers like you to do the same!

Once you’ve planted your tree, become part of a ‘comuniTree’ of green fingers on the Food & Trees for Africa website. Here, you can register your tree and have it plotted on a map. Thereafter, interact with likeminded people and stay abreast of tree planting news and events.

Not keen on getting your hands dirty? You can also have a tree planted for you

Find out more about the Trees for Africa Arbour Challenge.

How did Arbour Week come about?

Arbour Week comes from the original Arbour Day that was celebrated in 1872 in Nebraska, USA.  The organiser of the first Arbour Day, J. Sterling Morton, was concerned about Nebraska’s tree-less plains. 

Over and above this, he wanted to spread awareness about the benefits of trees: soil protection, fruit, shade and building material. Today, of course, we know trees do far more than that! Nonetheless, an estimated one million trees were planted on that initial Arbour Day. 

Spreading the love of trees

In South Africa, Arbour Day was first celebrated in 1983 on 1 September – Spring Day. The event appealed to people who recognised the need for raising awareness about the importance of trees.

By 1999, public enthusiasm for the event inspired the government to extend the celebration of Arbour Day to National Arbour Week.  

And, since 2000, South Africa has further personalised greening activities by highlighting two trees – one common and one rare – to increase public awareness of indigenous trees. This year, the chosen common and rare tree species are the Blossom Tree (Keurboom), and the Cross-Berry (Kruisbessie) and Powder-Puff (Poeierkwasboom) trees, respectively.

Benefits of trees

Apart from offering natural sun-protection, trees also do the following:

  • Clean the air. Trees absorb odours and harmful gasses as well as provide life-giving oxygen.
  • Provide food. Apples, bananas, mangoes, oranges – imagine a world without them!
  • Prevent soil erosion. The roots of trees slow runoff and hold soil in place on hills and alongside streams and riverbanks.
  • Conserve energy. Trees placed strategically around a home can cut energy use from air conditioning by up to 50%.
  • Save water. Shade from trees slows down the rate of water evaporation from lawns, which means less watering and a lowered bill.
  • Balance the climate. Trees cool urban areas by up to 12°C by breaking up heat patches and releasing water vapour into the air through their leaves.

Things to do during Arbour Week 

  • Plant a tree, or organise a tree-planting event.
  • Buy a potted tree and beautify your home. It’s a small way to offset your carbon footprint. Check out the wide range of trees at your local Pick n Pay Nursery (at Hypermarket stores).
  • Take a hike. This is a great way to appreciate the beauty that trees bring to the outdoors.
  • Learn which trees are in your neighbourhood. Then see which ones you can spot – another way to grow your appreciation of trees. 
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