City Celebrates Arbor Month at Lookout Hill in Mitchells Plain
As part of its National Arbor Month celebrations, the City of Cape Town on 13 September 2005 planted the trees at this tourist hotspot, situated on the corner of New Eisleben and Baden Powell Drive.
Alderman Gavin Paulse, Speaker of the City of Cape Town, delivered the keynote address: "I challenge the residents of our city to plant at least one tree during Arbor Month. Unfortunately few people realise the importance of trees. Trees that have taken years to grow often have to make way for the priorities of industry, shopping centres, housing and roads. This makes it even more necessary to make a concerted effort to replace those trees that have been lost as a result of development".
"In Cape Town, the need for trees is the highest in new high-density housing developments, previously disadvantaged areas and the highly polluted areas of the city. In Mitchells Plain there are many barren areas devoid of trees and shrubs. With the help of the community, local business, schools, churches and government these areas can be transformed into an environment we can all be proud of," he added.
The corporate investment departments of the GrandWest Casino and the Table Bay Hotel handed over gardening implements and vegetable seeds to the nearby Seaview Primary School. Pupils of the school provided entertainment at the event and participated in the tree planting ceremony.
Ms Christa le Roux, Director: City Parks, said: "The Parks Department built a tar road to the top of the hill in 1979 and it became a popular viewing site where tourists could enjoy breathtaking, 360 degree views of the Mitchells Plain area, False Bay where whales can be spotted during mating season, and Mnandi Beach 500m away, which boasts blue flag status.
"However, due to its isolation, the hill became dangerous to visit after hours and the place soon became a dumping site and a hangout for bad elements. It was then decided to close the entrance and restrict vehicular traffic to the top,"
In 2003, the community organisation, Advance South Africa Fair (ASAF) initiated its revival and applied to the Mitchells Plain Development Forum for funding to upgrade the area.
"This was the beginning of a new partnership between City Parks and the Rocklands community," says Ms Le Roux.
Additional funding from the City's Urban Renewal Programme enabled the project to employ locals to help clean up the area. Supported by the local neighbourhood watch, truck loads of alien vegetation and rubbish were removed.
Says George Penxa, Director of the Urban Renewal Programme: "The URP is committed to the development of Mitchells Plain and Khayelitsha, and is actively working through partnerships with both the public and private sector to improve the lives of residents of these areas. The Rocklands Lookout Hill project is a good example of how local government and residents have worked together to create a better environment ".
Once the hill had been cleared, City Parks applied its expertise and created pathways and rock features, planted trees and installed benches. This transformed the environment from a dumpsite into an aesthetically pleasing tourist attraction.
"The aim of this tree planting is to raise community awareness of the importance of trees in our daily lives as well as the alarming rate at which the earth's natural resources are being destroyed. We also want to put children in contact with nature and teach them what they can do to protect the environment.
"Arbor Month is a good time for property owners to check their trees for any signs of disease and insect damage. It is also an ideal time to plant new trees to improve the look and value of one's property as well as to provide protection against wind or heat," says Ms Le Roux
City Parks has developed a tree policy aimed at adopting an integrated, city-wide approach to the greening of Cape Town by maximizing tree planting in the city and maintaining trees which have numerous social and environmental rewards for society. With the current water restrictions, the policy also provides advice on water tolerant trees.
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