TreeKeepers believe that the only way to conserve our urban forests is to raise awareness of the value of trees for human health and well being thereby encouraging the Public to become more active in preventing trees from being removed.
One of the biggest concerns that TreeKeepers (TK) currently has, apart from the need to develop skills in the tree care industry, is that no one actually knows how many trees the City of Cape Town is a custodian of or where they are located or what state they are in. Without this data base of information it is impossible to plan properly for the correct watering, pruning, care and replanting of the urban forest and it is also impossible to assess the risk that the City is dealing with by not taking appropriate care of their natural assets.
TK is encouraging the City to create an inventory for the trees on public land including trees along the streets and highways, parks and public open spaces and on properties used for public amenities such as City halls, libraries, day hospitals, crèches, swimming pools and sports facilities. The inventory will ideally identify the tree species, approximate age and state of health, size and location, and can be used to assess the arboricultural requirements that each tree needs for a healthy long life.
Local members of TK started plotting the trees in the Harfield Village and Kenilworth area using Google maps and the process revealed that the majority of trees in these suburbs are located on private property and not on Council land. Unfortunately there is currently no legislation to protect trees on private property except for areas that have conservation status under Heritage legislation or environmental value under the Forestry Act, which only protects a few indigenous species such as Yellowwoods and Milkwoods.
TK were involved recently with trying to save a very large Yellowwood tree on a property in Arbor Road in Rondebosch. Unfortunately, even though the tree potentially had protection under legislation, a permit was granted for its removal by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
TK believe that the only way to conserve our urban forests is to raise awareness of the value of trees for human health and wellbeing and to educate people about the role that trees play in terms of ecosystem functions thereby encouraging the Public to become more active in preventing trees from being removed.
TreeKeepers is a citizens organisation that came together to protect big trees mainly in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. They have formed a relationship (guided by a memorandum of agreement) with City Council's Parks department to help conserve and maintain the urban forest.
To find out more about TreeKeepers Association view their website at http://treekeeperscapetown.org.za