NGO speaks for the trees

The Cape flowering gum which is over 60 years old.

The International Day of Forests, on March 21, goes unheeded in Cape Town, but Kenilworth-based tree activists want to change that.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed the day in 2012 to raise awareness about the importance of all types of trees and forests.

This year’s theme is “Forests for Sustainable Cities” and focuses on how forests and trees in urban areas improve air quality, lower temperatures, feed and shelter animal life, improve aesthetics, reduce stress, dampen noise and provide refuges for relaxation and recreation, among other things.

According to Henk Egberink, from the non-profit TreeKeepers, the role trees play in cleaning the air is particularly important because of the millions of air-pollution-related deaths around the world each year.

TreeKeepers believes it’s important to celebrate the International Day of Trees and Forests in Cape Town at a time when trees in the city’s centre and suburbs are under growing threat from property developers and residents

Ward 59 councillor Ian Iversen says he consults with TreeKeepers whenever he gets development plans calling for trees to be cut down.

“I always refer the plans to TreeKeepers for their guidance as to whether any of the mature trees have reached a status that they should be protected and conserved, which would mean that I would request the developer to alter the plans to receive my support.”

Mr Egberink says it’s vital to conserve trees for future generations. The Paris Climate Accord of 2015 emphasised trees’ contribution to offset climate change and countries committed to planting more trees to clear the air.

TreeKeepers provides a consultancy service on how to interact with the City of Cape Town, which owns all trees in public places, and residents who intend taking down trees without following the proper guidelines.

In many instances, says Mr Egberink, judicious pruning and feeding will improve the health of the trees and enhance the beauty of the suburb.

For more information, email or visit www.treekeeperscapetown.