Spring has sprung and with the weather being mostly clement, South Africans from all walks of life are being encouraged to get their hands dirty planting a tree.
September marks National Arbor Month and the Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Maggie Sotyu, has encouraged South Africans to plant trees and look after their natural environment.
"Greening interventions that include the planting of fruit trees in home gardens can make a contribution towards alleviating household food insecurity in both urban and rural settlements," Sotyu said.
She launched the National Arbor Month campaign in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, on Sunday.
Arbor Month is an annual campaign coordinated by the national Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs in partnership with Total South Africa.
The primary objective of the Arbor campaign is to ensure greening initiatives in the country. The campaign is not limited to planting trees, but contributes to the mandate of ensuring food security.
The communities of Motherwell, KwaZakhele and New Brighton have benefited from this objective, where the Deputy Minister and dignitaries led the planting of 500 fruit and 500 indigenous trees in community parks, with some being distributed to households and a local school.
The three communities were also given 400 hand gardening tools.
40 000 trees to be planted
Sotyu said the campaign plans to have 40 000 trees planted throughout the country, with at least 3 000 planted in and around Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality by the end of September.
This year's campaign will be observed under the theme 'Forests and Sustainable Cities'.
Total South Africa, which has sponsored the campaign for more than 16 years, emphasised the importance of environmental protection as a way to preserve national heritage.
"We will have no heritage to speak of if we don't act today. In South Africa, we have felt the direct impact of climate change on agriculture, and the knock-on effect on our country's food security," said Total SA's Corporate Affairs Manager, Nne-Mpho Siaga.
Arbor City Awards
Meanwhile, Sotyu announced the winners of the 2019 Arbor City Awards competition. The ceremony was held on Sunday ahead of the National Arbor Month campaign launch.
Sponsored by Total SA, the Arbor City Awards promote the greening of cities and towns in South Africa. The awards are given to cities or towns that go an extra mile to green their areas of jurisdiction.
The awards competition comprises of five categories which were awarded as follows:
Youth in Greening Municipality won by the City of Umhlathuze Local Municipality. The municipality received a cash prize of R100 000 and a certificate.
Metropolitan Category went to the City of Johannesburg. The city walked away with a R300 000 cash prize and a certificate.
Local Municipality Category: First prize went to the City of Mbombela Local Municipality from Mpumalanga, and they received R300 000 cash prize and a certificate. The Sol Plaatje Local Municipality from the Northern Cape scooped the second prize in the same category and walked away with a cash prize of R250 000 and a certificate.
Rural Local Municipalities Category went to Ulundi Local Municipality from KwaZulu-Natal. They received a cash prize of R250 000 and a certificate.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality was named the most improved municipality and walked away with a cash prize of R100 000 and a certificate.