SAACI Northern Territories branch recently donated 380 trees to the residents of Rietfontein Village near Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.

Funds were raised at the association’s annual congress in Johannesburg in close cooperation with Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA) Trees for Home programme.

Chairman Wayne Johnson says every year the association implements greening initiatives to minimise the environmental impact of its congress. This year, I believe, we have set new records, not only with a low carbon footprint, but by making a tangible contribution to a community close by. Our partnership with FTFA brought formidable results. “We thank the sponsor for giving us these trees,” said Ward Councillor Molefi Selibo. They’re a great gift to the community and I will personally encourage members of the community to keep looking after their trees.

Rietfontein Village, commonly known as Video, is a settlement just off Beyers Naud drive, next to the N14, in the Mogale City Municipality. The area has recently developed RDP housing in desperate need of greening. The people were moved from nearby squatter camps.

For this initiative FTFA has procured 190 fruit trees – peach, apricot, plum – and 190 indigenous trees – wild olive, karee, river bushwillow – suitable for the particular climate, season and area, as advised by a local nursery.

As these trees grow they’ll provide fruit, shade, a habitat for birds and wildlife, an opportunity to learn about climate change and the environment, help clean the air, settle dust, reduce erosion, water runoff and noise, lessen the effects of wind, increase property values and create sustainable human settlements.

In addition to improving the environment in which these residents live, the SAACI Trees for Homes trees will sequestrate a conservatively estimated 140 tons of carbon dioxide, therefore contributing to the mitigation of climate change over the next 15 years. An estimated 9,5 hectares of urban forest will be planted through these 380 trees.

Furthermore, eight unemployed residents of Rietfontein Village received training as community educators, who will go door to door to spread awareness about the SAACI trees initiative. They will work with FTFA for one year to evaluate the growth and success of the trees.