A project to plant 15 000 indigenous trees in the Eastern Cape kicked off in Mthatha on Friday (20 September).
Marking the inaugural Mthatha Heritage Festival, Champions of the Environment Foundation chairman Bantu Holomisa said that culture should be defined not only in terms of culture but also in terms of natural or environmental heritage.
He points out that the environment has the potential to significantly contribute to job creation and economic growth, especially in areas like the Eastern Cape.
“We must promote the green economy and show the importance of integrated environmental management in advancing our economy, generating wealth and manifesting a dignified life for all our people, but especially in the rural areas,” he says.
“The Mthatha Heritage Festival is an ideal opportunity to promote the cultural and environmental heritage of the northern and central parts of the Eastern Cape. It will also provide opportunities for the people of the region, especially the economically marginalised, to learn about their heritage and their environment.”
The Tree Planting Project aims to plant 15 000 indigenous trees at the Bumbane, Mngqesha, Nqadu, Nyandeni, Qamata and Qaukeni Great Places between September and November 2013.
This will be accomplished in partnership with the National Department of Environmental Affairs, the Eastern Cape Department for Local Government and Traditional Affairs and the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality.
Terry Pheto, ambassador for the Champions of the Environment Foundation, spoke directly to the youth, inviting all young people to become Champions and involved in protecting and nurturing the natural environment.
She points out that a project like this is about more than planting trees. It’s also about creating jobs for young people; food security; caring for communities; waste management; and littering.
“Around the world young people feel marginalised for many reasons,” she says. “Champions, however, see the importance of engaging young people and getting them excited about the environment.”