National Arbor Day 2020

Event date: 
2020-09-01 (All day)



The Department is the custodian of greening function in South Africa. This function takes place at local government level, and as a result, it is undertaken in partnership with local government institutions, Non-Government Organisations and Community Based Organisations. The idea behind the campaign is to highlight the opportunities for sustainable environmental, social and economic development, community participation, poverty alleviation and job creation in forestry thereby contributing towards growth, development and a better life for all.

As the custodian of the greening function, the Department is also responsible for the co-ordination of the National Arbor Month Campaign.

However, the Campaign for 2020 has been celebrated using a different approach from the norm because of the World Health Organization having declared COVID-19 a pandemic or public health emergency of international importance. In South Africa, the escalation of measures to combat Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic were initially announced by the President on the 23rd of March 2020. Even if the country is at alert level 2, there are still regulations that need to be complied with when arranging activities such as the launch and rollout of the National Arbor Month Campaign.

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The 2020 Theme

The 2020 Arbor Month Campaign has a different approach to previous campaigns. The focus is on content (packaging relevant messages) and supporting communities rather than events. In line with the above approach, the proposed theme is “Forests and Biodiversity” which is used with the slogan “Trees in our lives”. The slogan, “Trees in our lives” focus and expand on how trees and forests contribute to the lives of South Africans in line with the sustainable forest management principles of social, environmental and economic development. In this regard, the tree planting activities for the 2020 campaign focus on two areas: Remembrance and commemorative tree planting and greening of settlements. The commemorative tree planting deal with the remembrance and commemoration of all frontline professionals and workers who dedicated their efforts towards preventing and fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and to those who had fallen as a result of being infected with the virus.

The creation of sustainable settlements focus on tree planting, especially fruit trees in Low-Income Cost Housing and the creation of jobs through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).


The campaign was launched through the unveiling Remembrance Garden in Thaba Nchu (Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality), and followed on the same day by the symbolic tree planting in Hillside View in Mangaung. At both places, community members have been recruited through the Expanded Public Works Programme to create employment opportunities in these localities through the implementation of greening initiatives. Hillside View is an area with a mixture of Low-Income Cost Housing, Housing for Military Veterans and other houses that are acquired through other means of finance by the homeowners.

After the launch in Free State, the Deputy Minister will be expected to participate in tree planting activities in Dr Segomotsi Mompati District Municipality in North West, focusing on settlement areas, City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, in Gauteng, focusing on Remembrance Tree Planting, and Sol Plaatjie Local Municipality in the Northern Cape, also focusing on Remembrance Tree Planting.

Trees of the year

In order to promote greening, especially the planting of indigenous trees whose occurrence has become scarce, the concept of the trees of the year was born some years ago. Previously there were two selected trees of the year comprising of a rare and common species. However, at times there are three trees of the year. For the year 2020 campaign, the trees of the year are;

  • Ekebergia capensis; Common name: Cape Ash Tree [in Setswana – Motshai]
  • Adansonia digitata; Common name: Baobab Tree [in Setwana – Mowana / Sepedi Moyo]

Media speeches and statements


National Arbor Month launches with the opening of memorial garden in Thaba Nchu

The Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Makhotso Sotyu, has launched the National Arbour Month campaign by opening a memorial garden to remember all South Africans who have fallen to the Covid-19 and honour frontline professionals and workers who worked tirelessly to treat the pandemic in Thaba Nchu, Free State. 

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Speech by Deputy Minister Sotyu at launch of Arbor Month Campaign

Programme Director, it gives me great pleasure to be here in Thaba Nchu as we celebrate the launch of the Arbor Month Campaign. The driving theme for this year is “Forests and biodiversity”. The theme speaks to the important role that trees and forests have in our ecosystems and promotion of biodiversity. The droughts that we have experienced and the storms that are becoming more destructive including uncontrolled veld and forest fires point to the fact that climate change is a reality.

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