Howick tree lovers battle to save acacias

2013-07-04 00:00

TREE lovers in Howick are up in arms that beautiful paperbark acacias are being cut down to widen the main road.

Resident Bridget Ringdahl initially led a one-person protest over the tree-cutting, tying yellow ribbons around the trees.

Later, her efforts were enhanced by children from the the nearby kwaMevana area who attended the uMgeni Valley Eco-School. They rallied together and placed posters on the trees, reminding the council about conservation. One poster read: “We the future speak for the trees.”

Ringdahl said she was very proud of the children.

“Nothing like seeing messages from the local youth — take heed municipality!”

She said in a group e-mail to fellow environmentalists that the protest was a gesture to try to prevent the felling of “these magnificent and, now not so common paperbark acacias”.

Ringdahl asked why it was necessary to cut the trees to widen the road when it would only become another bottleneck as it reaches central Howick.

“How about fixing up the potholed roads we do have for a start and addressing the decade-long issue of pumping sewage into the river? Or How about preserving some of the little biodiversity and beauty we still have in Howick?”

Ringdahl said that although the small protest won’t save these trees, it might start to remind residents of how “every day we lose another little, but none the less special part of our precious natural heritage”.

uMngeni municipal spokesperson Thando Mgaga said the municipality had appointed a contractor to widen lanes on both sides of the road from Prospect Road to the uMngeni River on the main road, in order to ease traffic flow, especially at peak hours.

Mgaga said the municipality had been mindful of environmental concerns and had sought authorisation from the provincial Environmental Affairs Department to remove the trees to make way for the widening of the road.

“Upon completion of the roadworks projected for December this year, the municipality will plant new paperbark acacia trees in consultation with the provincial environmental affairs department and other selected environmentalists.

“The paperbark acacias are indeed beautiful trees and the municipality is going to ensure that they are not lost to the people of uMngeni and to future generations of citizens,” he said.

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