Joburg planning a green revolution

13 October 2014 - 02:02 By Penwell Dlamini
MORE LEAFY SUBURBS: Joburg plans to make it mandatory for building plans to include provision for planting trees
MORE LEAFY SUBURBS: Joburg plans to make it mandatory for building plans to include provision for planting trees

If you intend building a house in Johannesburg you'd better add trees to the plan.

The City of Johannesburg is to introduce a by-law that will force residents to have trees and other "green" features factored into the building plans they submit for its approval.

The city hopes to use the new by-laws to bridge the green divide between the look and feel of the northern suburbs and the townships in the south.

City Parks spokesman Jenny Moodley said a draft tree management policy was being developed by the council to encourage tree planting.

"It should not be negotiable for every new house in the city to have a tree. The idea is to have each house with an indigenous tree, fruit tree and a food garden that can comfortably feed a family of four.

"This is the draft policy that we initiated as part of the growth and development strategy that the mayor announced last year."

Fruit trees that can survive on the highveld, such as peach, and indigenous trees such as cassia, would be planted.

Thousands of trees have been planted across the city's seven regions in keeping with its greening project.

During last month's Arbor Week 3733 trees were planted and there are plans for 16000 more in Eldorado Park and in Kliptown, Soweto.

Moodley said the city would give 10000 indigenous trees, including 6000 fruit trees, to households, and another 1500 trees would be planted as part of the city's capital projects.

One of the problems that City Parks has to contend with is that the stakes supporting the saplings are often stolen, especially in Alexandra and Midrand.

In areas such as Soweto trees have been felled to make room for homes, she said.

Moodley said City Parks also had to counter beliefs such as that trees attracted evil spirits and harboured criminals.

But other communities had different views about trees on their property.

"In Orange Farm, in the far south of Johannesburg, somebody hanged himself," Moodley recalled. "The community then petitioned the city to cut down all the trees in the area.

"But we did not. Instead we had a long consultation process and a big education drive in that ward."

Suburban residents complain that trees in their neighbourhood block their swimming pool pumps and the leaves litter their yards.