Arbor Week: Alternate ways to plant trees and celebrate SA’s flora

2017-09-01 08:30 - Kavitha Pillay
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Cape Town - National Arbor Week, from 1 to 7 September, is celebrated annually in South Africa, encouraging all South Africans to plant indigenous trees “as a practical and symbolic gesture of sustainable environmental management”.

September marks the start of Spring in SA and is also Heritage and Tourism Month, and with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) spearheading the national campaign for Arbor Week, it focuses on “some of the oldest, largest and culturally significant trees” including the Sophia Town Oak Tree and the Sagole Baobab Tree in Limpopo, which are part of our natural heritage.

ALSO SEE: #SAHeritage: Exploring Khoisan heritage and the ‡Khomani Cultural Landscape

Arbor Week affords the public the opportunity to be involved in "greening" their communities by planting trees and creating and encouraging environmentally-friendly human settlements.

“Greening refers to an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas, to secure multiple benefits for communities,” says DAFF.

According to DAFF, this will take place in towns, townships and informal settlements specifically because these were once “disadvantaged in terms of planning for parks as well as tree planting in streets and open spaces”.

SEE: WATCH: China's 'Forest City' to fight pollution

Apart from physically planting trees, there are other ways you can celebrate and be a part of Arbor Week, especially if you are unable to attend a local tree-planting event or lack "green-fingers".

Here are some other ways to celebrate Arbor Week, digitally:

Use plant apps and websites

One way to play your part this Arbor Week, and more importantly beyond, is by downloading one of many available plant apps or making using of websites dedicated to identifying and extending our knowledge of indigenous plants.

You may think why bother wasting data on a plant app or website - well, there are a few plant apps that allow the average citizen to become a role-player in the environment, even if you’re not the most environmentally conscious citizen.

Also, these online sources of information will prove to be useful when spotting various flora while out and about on your spring trips.

ALSO SEE: Citizen Science: Identify a plant from a picture with 'Shazam' for plants

Apps such as PlantNet and websites such as iSpot allow the everyday citizen to transform into a contributor to science as much as it provides users with valuable insight into all things flora.

Basically considered the ‘Shazam’ for plants, PlantNet allows users to identify a plant by simply taking and uploading a photo of the plant. It also allows users to explore and share their observations of wild plants.

iSpot is similar in that it also allows the online community by helping to identify wildlife and share nature.

Plant trees while browsing the net

You can also make use of Ecosia, a search engine that “plants trees with its advertising revenue”. Get the free browser extension - available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE, Opera and many more - and use Ecosia every time you search.

Your search adverts will generate the income used to plant trees. “Ecosia invests at least 80% of its surplus income in tree planting programmes all over the world,” says the browsing facility.

In June 2017, Ecosia users reached the goal of planting 10,000,000 trees. In this video, check out images from the sites where Ecosia is planting tress:

While these digital options allow ease of access to what nature has to offer and alternate ways of celebrating Arbor Week,  nothing beats getting out into nature and celebrating our flora. In addition to tree-planting this Arbor Week, check out some of SA's many hiking trails that will let you make the most of spring and get in touch with nature, while celebrating

What to read next on Traveller24:

Citizen Science: Identify a plant from a picture with 'Shazam' for plants

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