Speech by Deputy Minister Sotyu at launch of Arbor Month Campaign

Thaba Nchu, Free State, 1 September 2020

 

Acting Premier of Free State Hon Mamiki Qabathe
MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development; Hon Kwekwe Bulwane
MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Hon Makalo Mohale
Acting Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, Lebogang Masoetsa
Councillors
Representatives of Total South Africa
President of the Institute of Environment and Recreation Management
Ladies and gentlemen

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.

As we celebrate Arbor Month, we would like to emphasise the fact that, one of the reasons why trees and forests wood are one of the greatest and most important natural resources in the world, is that their contribution to the effective regulation of our environment and atmosphere is priceless.

Trees and their products are among South Africa’s most valuable national treasures and play an important and diverse role in the national economy. People in both rural and urban settings are becoming increasingly knowledgeable and sensitive about trees and forests, resulting in a greater awareness of the maintenance and preservation of this rich heritage.

Programme Director, the Campaign for 2020 will be 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. As we are celebrating the launch of the Arbor Month Campaign, we are still at alert Level 2 of the lockdown as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

For this reason, as we launch Arbor Month campaign besides highlighting the role that the trees play in symbolic events, we would like to honour and commemorate people who have made a contribution to society, nation building and to mark important events in our lives. We encourage government departments, municipalities, civil society and individuals while contributing to the greening of our country to also engage in commemorative tree planting. For individuals it could be when you acquire a new home, when a child is born or whatever significant event one would want to commemorate.

Programme Director, today we will be planting trees to remember those who have fallen from the Covid 19 pandemic and to honour our frontline workers and professionals who are working tirelessly to combat this pandemic.

In addition to this initiative, trees will also be planted at Hillside View for the purposes of creating sustainable settlements and to address issues of food security. We have also employed members of the community through the Expanded Public Works Programme, twenty four (24) in Thaba Nchu, and fifty (50) in Hillside View to also address issues of livelihoods in the affected communities.

To ensure that while we work towards a greener South Africa, we also keep our surroundings clean, the Department will be donating 24 Skippy bins to the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality. This is done in line with the Good Green Deeds Programme coordinated and led by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

Programme Director, I would like to thank all role-players who made this launch event successful including the province, Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, our corporate sponsor Total South Africa, Councillors and our community workers.

Thank you