/ 22 April 2008

Park opening highlights need to protect environment

Laughing excitedly, dozens of children on Tuesday filled a new park in Bramfischerville, Soweto, which was opened by Johannesburg City Parks and the district municipality to mark World Earth Day 2008.

World Earth Day, which aims to educate people on the effects of global warming, was the perfect backdrop against which to unveil the newly developed community park and to educate members of the community to be more “green” in their everyday lives.

Apart from educating people on the state of the environment, Johannesburg City Parks has also planted more than 15 000 trees in Meadowlands and Bramfischerville.

Jenny Moodley, spokesperson for Johannesburg City Parks, explained that it was driving the effort to inform residents about going green before 2010. “It’s not only in Soweto and here in Bramfischerville, but also in the northern suburbs were there are concrete jungles. We need to plant more trees in those areas as well.

“We are addressing the [lack of trees] throughout the city,” she explained. “We call on businesses to fund the planting of street trees, as these are more expensive then the trees we are planting in people’s homes.”

Moodley stressed that there were also other ways that communities and businesses could help. “You can clean the rivers, parks and areas around where you stay. Earth Day gives us a chance to do this and to make people aware.”

Councillor Gladys Fihla urged residents to reduce their carbon footprint: “Never in our history has the importance of nurturing our environment been so critical. Climate change, food and oil shortages, HIV and ongoing strife in Africa are impacting negatively on the environment.”

She emphasised the need to adopt an attitude of save, re-use, reduce and recycle to leave a healthy legacy for the benefit of future generations.

Moodley also spoke of the community “knock-and-drop” drive by City Parks, whereby households are approached with a view to encourage the planting and care of trees. Households are asked if they would like to plant and care for a tree. Most accept.

“We are planting 15 000 trees, which average about R800 per tree, that’s why if there are no parents at home we do not leave trees for that house. It’s a consultation process,” said Moodley.

Mariesa Jacobs, mother of 13-month-old Itumeleng, was happy about the safety that the park would create for the neighbourhood’s children. She recalled an incident last year where a baby was found dead in the area near where the park is now situated.

“I’m very happy that they built the park. Last year this time a baby got lost here and the body was found in the bushes. So now our children have somewhere to play and be safe. We will all help to keep it clean and safe.”

Tebogo (13), who lives in Phase One, Bramfischerville, said: “We are very happy. We were just getting bored because there was nothing before. We are going to be safe because now there is a park for us. We will help to keep it clean.”

Fihla reminded people that “we only have one Earth” and if we do not look after it “we will not be given a second chance”.