Arbor Day was initially promoted by Mr J Sterling Morton in 1872 with the slogan "other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future". We're big fans of Arbor Day and here are some stories from the field.
Arbor week is generally celebrated from the 1st to the 7th September. At NCC, due to a varied workload and project time delivery, we found that it was necessary to dedicate the whole month of September! We asked our staff from the field to send us their stories from Arbor month 2015, what happened on their various sites, and what they got up to. These are a selections of the stories from the field. Arbor Day is probably one of our favourite initiatives at NCC, it grants us such a sense of giving back, and must be one of the oldest traditions. Who doesn’t remember planting a tree or two at school?
Trevor O’Donoghue (Senior Environmental Advisor – Cape Grid) presented an alternative to the trees of the year which are dictated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestries and Fisheries, one common and one rare tree (see poster below). Sometimes these trees are difficult to purchase, and due to our varied climate in South Africa, may not adapt to certain areas. Spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is a soft-wooded semi-evergreen upright shrub, and one of the most common plants in the landscape. Most importantly though is that it is a remarkable plant. It grows quickly, is exceptionally succulent and can store 200 cubic metres of water per hectare, does not require cultivation, is soil enriching, and, the best thing about is that it is a climate change combater. Currently, humans are producing carbon quicker than it can be absorbed, causing heat from the sun to be trapped instead of being radiated back out into space. Spekboom’s rate of carbon capture makes it 10 times more effective per hectare at carbon fixing than any tropical rain forest. Trevor has presented an ideal argument for the planting of Spekboom, not only on Arbor Day, but whenever possible.
One of our NCC EOs, Cobus Hoon, works on the Aries Nieuwehoop 400kV transmission line as well as the Nieuwehoop substation just outside Kakamas, close to Augrabies falls. The project team decided to plant some trees at the local high school in Kenhardt, as well as next to the road leading to the substation. Considering that the project team are only in the area for as long as they are constructing, it is a benefit to involve the local community, in this case scholars and local labour forces, which ensure the success of the trees planted. Camel thorn trees were selected as they are considered a conservation flagship species, and will successfully grow in this area. The trees were donated by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Upington and the Eskom Grid. Twenty trees were planted in total and an education session was given about Arbor Day and the importance of Camel Thorn trees with all involved.
Kusile, which is a Coal Fired Power Station Eskom Big Build project just outside of Witbank, has been a project of NCCs since 2009, and over the years the environmental teams have planted many a tree in and around the project footprint. Most of these have been at local schools, and 2015 was no exception. The contractor EOs for the project organised a tree planting session at two schools in Bronkhorstspruit, a small town where many of the project team live. Scholars from Erasmus High School and Mshuluzane Mayisela Primary School were educated on the importance of Arbor Day and the trees which were planted in the school. Posters were also put up in the school, and, as can be seen by the pictures, fun was had by all!