Mass tree planting for local rivers

2013-04-18 00:00

A DYNAMIC partnership between the Sustainable Living and Indigenous Plant (Slip) Fair and Dusi uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) aims to improve the quality of river water in the Umgeni and Duzi catchments.

The aim is to plant as many suitable indigenous trees along the course of the river as possible where the Duct teams have cleared away invasive alien vegetation.

The spinoff from this ecofriendly event is that it has the potential to create permanent jobs along the river as communities help TO plant and maintain the trees and vegetation, and ensure the riverway is cleaner.

And it is hoped that there will be greater co-operation between businesses and the public as they become more aware of the urgent need to become participants in such initiatives.

The tree-planting initiative will also help in a practical way by enabling businesses to balance out their carbon emmissions.

Doug Burden of Duct said: “You can help by donating a suitable tree at Slip 2013. We have listed all 12 appropriate species for rehabilitation. Trees that are bought by the public will be eligible for a 20% discount if donated to this worthy initiative.

“When we clear a river bank of invasive plants, we cannot leave the area exposed or soon enough the invasive plants will grow back. We have a massive programme to clear out wattle, syringa, bugweed, lantana and chromalena, and replace them with indigenous alternatives.

“Our tree programme will replace the exposed areas with appropriate indigenous plants. The trees we have chosen are known to be water-friendly and they are useful in preventing soil erosion and sedimentation buildup in the rivers.

“We have identified 12 trees that also offer shade to animals and humans, and nesting sites for birds.”

Kevan Zunckel, a local resource ecologist, said that the tree-planting programme helps bring down the cost of water in the long run.

The eThekwini Water and Sanitation Unit currently spends about R120 million a month just on water purification. Duct has worked out that it costs R40 000 per month to rehabilitate and maintain a healthy vegetation zone 30 metres either side of the river along one kilometre of river length.

“For only 10% of eThekwini’s water-treatment budget, 250 kilometres of the Umgeni River could be rehabilitated and maintained.”

Duct has shown that its work made a big difference to the health scores in a 15-kilometre stretch of the river where scores went from “poor” to “natural” where a Working for Water team had carried out rehabilitation work.

“In addition to reducing purification costs, this also has the potential to decrease the risk of water-borne diseases and related health and other social costs, as about a third of people living in the catchment do not have access to potable water and rely instead on direct abstraction from natural ecosystems.

• For more information, see www.slip2013.word press.com

TRISH BEAVER

THE Slip 2013 Fair has relocated this year to the KZN National Botanical Gardens and entrance is free for the event from April 25 to April 28.

Visit the Slip 2013 website for a full programme to see the many speakers and edutainment on offer. There will be demonstrations and films on many environmental issues and talks by indigenous-gardening experts.

All kinds of indigenous plants and organic food will be on sale.

trish beaver

A DYNAMIC partnership between the Sustainable Living and Indigenous Plant (Slip) Fair and Dusi uMngeni Conservation Trust (Duct) aims to improve the quality of river water in the Umgeni and Duzi catchments.

The aim is to plant as many suitable indigenous trees along the course of the rivers as possible where the Duct teams have cleared away invasive alien vegetation. Trees along river banks help prevent erosion and allow natural waterways to rehabilitate themselves.

The spin-off from this ecofriendly event is that it has the potential to create permanent jobs along the river as communities help to plant and maintain the trees and vegetation, and ensure the riverway is cleaner.

And it is hoped that there will be greater co-operation between businesses and the public as they become more aware of the urgent need to become participants in such initiatives.

The tree-planting initiative will also help in a practical way by enabling businesses to balance out their carbon emissions.

Doug Burden of Duct said: “You can help by donating a suitable tree at Slip 2013. We have listed all 12 appropriate species for rehabilitation. Trees that are bought by the public will be eligible for a 20% discount if donated to this worthy initiative.

“When we clear a river bank of invasive plants, we cannot leave the area exposed or soon enough the invasive plants will grow back. We have a massive programme to clear out wattle, syringa, bugweed, lantana and chromalena, and replace them with indigenous alternatives.

“Our tree programme will replace the exposed areas with appropriate indigenous plants. The trees we have chosen are known to be water-friendly and they are useful in preventing soil erosion and sedimentation build-up in the rivers.

“We have identified 12 trees that also offer shade to animals and humans, and nesting sites for birds.”

Kevan Zunckel, a local resource ecologist, said that the tree-planting programme helps bring down the cost of water in the long run.

The eThekwini Water and Sanitation Unit currently spends about R120 million a month just on water purification. Duct has worked out that it costs R40 000 per month to rehabilitate and maintain a healthy vegetation zone 30 metres either side of the river along one kilometre of river length.

“For only 10% of eThekwini’s water-treatment budget, 250 kilometres of the Umgeni River could be rehabilitated and maintained.”

Duct has shown that its work made a big difference to the health scores in a 15-kilometre stretch of the river where scores went from “poor” to “natural” where a Working for Water team had carried out rehabilitation work.

“In addition to reducing purification costs, this also has the potential to decrease the risk of water-borne diseases and related health and other social costs, as about a third of people living in the catchment do not have access to potable water and rely instead on direct abstraction from natural ecosystems.

• For more information, see www.slip2013.word press.com

• trish.beaver@witness.co.za

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