Howick residents protest for trees

2008-01-14 00:00

A TREE-FELLING protest initiated by environmental organisation Green Howick yesterday saw locals pledge allegiance against the felling of century-old oak trees by the municipality in their efforts to replace existing trees with indigenous species.

The protest outside St Luke’s Church in Howick’s Main Street was initiated when a number of e-mails and SMSs were sent to Howick residents to canvass support.

Locals also expressed concern that the municipality’s rejuvenation plans for Howick to date have not involved any public participation.

One concerned Howick resident told The Witness yesterday that people are complaining about the “acts of the municipality”, saying that “it’s not very progressive”.

Green Howick said the potential felling of a number of old oak and plane trees near St Luke’s and jacarandas along Dicks Street, and the few remaining citrus gum trees on entering Howick before the bridge, is a major concern.

According to protest organisers, most residents are particularly “annoyed by the lack of public participation and planning around the rejuvenation of Howick”, and that this is essentially “the root of all the gripes”.

Included in the municipality’s assessment list is the old oak outside St Luke’s church and the flat-top acacia near Ace Tech in Main Road.

“It is clear that it doesn’t matter what type of tree it is,” said organisers.

Concerns were raised about whether the municipality has plans for the replanting of trees and people questioned what specifications exist for the types of trees that will be used.

Green Howick, in a questionnaire issued to all concerned residents, said they would like to openly discuss with the municipality their greening/rejuvenation plans for the Howick CBD.

Green Howick said that they are “pro-indigenous but not at the expense at cutting down old aesthetically-pleasing exotic trees which are not invasive”.

DA councillor Pam Passmoor said the aim of the protest was to stop the municipality from chopping down the old oak trees.

“The trees belong to the community,” she said.

Passmoor said that they are an integral part of Howick and “if they are felled, one may as well go and live in the Karoo”.

uMngeni municipal manager Dumisani Vilakazi was not available to comment yesterday.

nerissag@witness.co.za

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