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South Africa celebrates Arbor Week and 2015 World Forestry Congress 

Arbor Week is celebrated in the first week of September each year in South Africa. Each year, two or three indigenous trees are identified for promotion across the country. They usually include two commonly found indigenous trees species and rare tree species.

At this year's Arbor Week launch on 4 September 2013 at the Mpumalanga stadium in Hammarsdale, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, declared three trees "Champion trees". All the trees are indigenous to South Africa.

 
The 2013 Trees of the Year in South Africa are:

* Blossom tree:  Virgilia oroboides is also known as the common wild elder, blossom tree in English and keurboom in Afrikaans. 
* Powder puff tree:  Barringtonia racemosa, which is commonly known as powder-puff tree in English, poeierkwasboom in Afrikaans and iBhoqo in isiZulu.
* Cross berry tree: Grewia occidentalis, which is commonly known as cross-berry in English, kruisbessie in Afrikaans, Mokukutu in Setswana, Mogwane in Sepedi and Ilalanyathi in isiZulu.
* Powder puff tree:  Barringtonia racemosa, which is commonly known as powder-puff tree in English, poeierkwasboom in Afrikaans and iBhoqo in isiZulu.

Said Minister Joemat-Pettersson, "In 2015, eThekwini District Municipality will host the will host the XIV World Forestry Congress. South Africa was awarded the right to host this congress in 2010. 
 
The right was granted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO. It will be the first forestry congress held on African soil since its inception in 1926 in Rome. The benefits of this congress for the country are numerous. The focus of this year's event was the forestry sector's contribution to food security."

Minister Joemat-Pettersson thanked Total South Africa for assisting the department with planting 2 000 trees in Hammarsdale. 500 trees from the total number will be planted at local schools as part of their food gardens. Indigenous trees are a heritage to our society.
 


The event was attended by the MEC for Agriculture, and Environment Affairs, Dr Meshack Hadebe, the Executive Mayor of eThekwini Municipality Councillor James Nxumalo, Chairpersons of the National Forestry Advisory Council and the Charter Council and the Chairperson of TOTAL South Africa, Ms Pansy Mekwa.

Arbor Week is celebrated under the theme "Our Forests Our Future" and is from the 01 to 07 September. The focus of this year's Arbor Week is greening of the country for environmental conservation and development. While Arbor Week is about tree planting, the emphasis of the initiative on the role of trees and forests in addressing food security.

Issued by: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, South Africa.

4 Sep 2013
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