Pinetown woman on a crusade to grow and plant more trees in the province

2013-09-03 00:00

PINETOWN senior citizen Natalie Rowles is on a crusade to see more trees planted to save the environment.

Rowles (68) started growing yellowwood trees nine years ago, and has since been donating saplings to schools and reforestation projects throughout the city.

Her plan to green the city was literally hatched midair, on a flight from King Shaka International to Johannesburg to visit her son, Robin, on her 60th birthday.

She said she happened to look out of the window and was taken aback by the rate of deforestation in some parts of the province. Thus, the Free Trees for Schools and Future Forests was born.

“Since that observation on that flight almost nine years ago, I thought nothing would make me happier than seeing a tree growing in school yards. All children should have a little tree to grow, to measure themselves against and to mark the years as they pass by. It will help them to develop a green habit of mind and appreciate Mother Earth’s natural bounty,” said Rowles.

This encouraged her to donate thousands of yellowwood tree saplings to schools and in her area.

She said instilling a tree-planting habit in schools produces community members who are conscious of the impact of deforestation on both the environment and certain existing species.

Rowles started collecting yellowwood seeds from the pavements of Yellowwood Park, Durban. In the nursery that she runs at her home, she has produced thousands of saplings, some of which were donated and planted at the Mariann­hill Landfill site.

She said her passion for creating a greener world is self-funded.

“It’s challenging, but I feel highly rewarded with recognition by various people and organisations,” she said.

She has turned her home and garden into almost a working laboratory that is dedicated to recycling and sustainable living — from wormeries to collecting rain and making compost.

She said in 2011 the Hogsback forests were suffering from deforestation ,which affected the endangered wild Cape Parrots. “I sent hundreds of young yellowwood saplings to replace the chopped down yellowwoods and to supply a future food source for the Cape Parrots,” she said.

Last year, Rowles led a team of volunteers to harvest yellowwood saplings from verges in Yellowwood Park, which raised awareness of climate change among the public.

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