Wildlands celebrates Arbor Week with commerative tree plantings in Stellenbosch
The Lower Eerste River in the vicinity of Die Laan was the focus of a tree planting exercise to commemorate National Arbor Week held during the first week of September in South Africa.
WILDLANDS, a non-profit environmental organization, in partnership with the e’Bosch Heritage Project celebrated Arbor Week with a tree-planting event along the banks of the iconic Eerste River in Stellenbosch. The WILDLANDS’ Ecological Restoration project in Stellenbosch, has been operational since 2014 and has celebrated four such tree-planting events in the past at Plankenbrug River, Klapmuts, Eerste River Park and Paradyskloof Eden Forest.
This year the focus area was the lower Eerste River at “Die Laan” along the North bank where a joint alien clearing and river rehabilitation program has been undertaken by the Conservation Division of Stellenbosch Municipality, WILDLANDS, the Stellenbosch Trail Fund (STF) and Stellenbosch University.
Lydia Van Rooyen, WILDLANDS’ Greening Your Future Manager comments,” We are passionate about protection of our water sources and natural landscapes, especially in this iconic Eerste river. We hope to continue our excellent relationship with the Stellenbosch Municipality, partners and the public to restore more and more of the ecological river systems by removing alien invasive plant and replacing it with indigenous riverine vegetation.
Stellenbosch residents were invited to donate indigenous Riverine Western Cape trees to rehabilitate the riparian zones and river banks where invasive alien plants have been removed. These trees will be designated as commemorative trees and a small commemorative plaque with wording of their choice will be attached to the tree in dedication to a person(s) or business or institution.
A 250-liter size indigenous Western Cape riverine tree was booked and ordered from the Stellenbosch Trail Fund, WILDLANDS’ partners for the Stellenbosch River Stewardship Action program, and all the big trees were supplied by Trees-SA, a local tree nursery. Stellenbosch residents responded with a donation of 9 indigenous riverine trees. The Stelkor medical doctors also donated a Wild Olive.
STF comments "As the official River Warden for the upper reaches of the Eerste River, the Stellenbosch Trail Fund is proud to be part of the 2018 Arbor Day project taking place on the banks of the river. This project is led by the WILDLANDS, our partner in the Stellenbosch River Stewardship Action which has as its primary focus the removal of alien vegetation and its replacement with endemic trees and shrubs. Arbor Day is part of this broader project and has been supported this year by generous donations by residents from Die Laan. We hope and trust that actions like these will encourage all South Africans to become involved in similar projects and to build together a country that we can be proud of.” Richard de Villiers – Director, Stellenbosch Trail Fund.
In addition, the Willems family, owners of Trees-SA donated 13 trees for the park and 3 trees for the riverbank, to commemorate their life-long connection as a family to trees and this park. Trees SA comments. “Having planted many trees over the past 20 years all over South Africa, we are overjoyed to be able to come back to our roots in Stellenbosch and provide a growing a legacy to these families of the town”
Mr Albert van der Merwe, Manager of Community Services and a strong partner in all conservation efforts for the rivers in Stellenbosch, welcomed all the partners and public with these words: Municipality comments A well manage river is only possible with sustainable partnerships between the organization responsible for managing the rivers, land owners and dedicated partners.
Celebrations will continue on Thursday, 6 September at Paul Roos Gymnasium, one of the most well-known Secondary Schools for Boys in the country. They will focus on the south bank of the Eerste River as they have a keen interest in custodianship of the river. They are also donating a large indigenous tree which will be planted on the river bank in front of the school. Thando Qayi, a WILDLANDS Ambassador, will lead the activities and give a talk to the learners and teachers on the day spreading the message of a sustainable future for all and protecting our heritage.
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