Root for the Earth

2011-09-17 11:00

It’s not often that government policy requires something pleasant and creative, but that’s what is happening at KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal.

Environmental sustainability and the green economy is receiving ­unprecedented attention due to ­climate change and its associated problems such as desertification, threats to our planet and food ­security.

So the National Climate Change Response Green Paper 2010 ­published for comment aims to:

» Ensure that forest planning tools take into account carbon sequestration in a way that can provide the necessary planning information to aid in obtaining incentives from ­carbon trading; and

» Encourage agro-forestry and ­indigenous tree production as a ­potential socio-economic benefit of environmentally integral planting regimes, and tree breeding as an adaptive response to changing ­landscape conditions.

In line with this, 34 000 trees were planted at Enyokeni Palace, KwaNongoma in KwaZulu-Natal last weekend.

This followed a successful Hegebe land tree-planting project in the Eastern Cape last year, where more than 3 000 indigenous trees were planted during the first phase of the project.

The purpose of these projects is to implement long-term strategies to mitigate the negative effects of ­climate change and to reduce our carbon footprint.

The projects will also help restore eco-systems, create jobs, transfer skills and educate learners and members of the local communities about the effects of climate change.

The Champions of the Environment Foundation believes that once sufficient trees have been planted they will assist in improving rainfall, which will benefit farming and ­grazing.

These steps will contribute ­significantly to combating desertification, which poses a major threat to food security.

The foundation is an autonomous, apolitical group formed to meet the urgent need for a coordinated campaign to heighten national awareness of environmental conservation issues and best practices to benefit the whole community and future generations.

It collaborates with the private sector in the restoration of local ­eco-systems and its ­objective is not only to uplift the local community, but also to create a business model that will encourage other individuals and corporate ­institutions to contribute to environmental projects.

To sustain these projects, the foundation invites companies to ­invest in them, which means that they earn carbon credits in the ­process.

Carbon offset calculations will be applied to all the trees planted up to this point. All the trees planted are indigenous and adaptable to a particular area.

Both CarbonWorx, in the case of the 2010 Hebe land project, and TourisWorld at this year’s Enyokeni Palace project, took care of mapping sites, digging holes, measuring ­carbon baselines of the planting sites and storing the geo-database maps and associated carbon baseline information.

As we prepare for 17th United ­Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change towards the end of the year, let the message be as strong as the people who converged on Enyokeni Palace last weekend, as strong as the voices of all South ­Africans: The environment is our lifeblood. If we protect it, we protect our future.

Let us honour our planet and by so doing, honour one another.

» Media24 contributed towards the project

» Bantu Holomisa is a member of Parliament and chairperson of the Champions of the ­Environment Foundation

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