George Municipality supports the Tree Tagging Legacy Project of NMMU

BY SUPPLIED - NOVEMBER 4, 2015

What is seen as the start of a Legacy to the people of George and generations to come, Forestry students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) in collaboration with George Municipality started a Tree Tagging Legacy Project to advance formal forestry education as well as informal forestry education to the public.

The first tree tagging will happen in the upcoming weeks.

Cllr Rassie de Villiers, Portfolio Councillor for Environmental Services at the George Municipality said one of the strategic goals of George Municipality is to keep George clean and green and safe and he is of the opinion that we need to plant as much trees as possible.

De Villiers said it is important for all in George to realise, “we live in the crown of the Garden Route. “The George Municipality supports you 100%.” De Villiers also pointed out the importance of the Tourism Industry to buy into the project.

Radie Loubser, Acting Manager: Parks and Recreation at Environmental Services, Community Services commended the students for their initiative and said the Municipality is a proud partner of this initiative.

Saasveld Forestry Association (SFA) is a student association that is registered as an academic society at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). Its primary goal is to organise students and advocate their needs and opinions on forestry related matters on campus, locally and internationally.

According to Trudy Sebelebele, a Third Year student in Forestry and Chairperson of SFA, the SFA in collaboration with the George Municipality, want to contribute to the George community by initiating the tree tagging legacy project, with the goal of expanding the project to reach more communities.

This project is aimed at bridging the knowledge gap about forestry and environmental education within the community by transferring knowledge to the local people through a simple and interactive tree tagging system. The Municipality of George is very keen on promoting trees in general.

A number of significant trees around George will be identified and tagged with QR codes, national tree number, GPS coordinates and tree names. NMMU has donated one desktop that will be placed at the George Public library which can be used to access the tagged trees information by entering the tree national number or the tree name.

The information will include the origin, characteristics and use of the trees as well as some local history related to some of the significant trees. Anyone anywhere will have access to the website via their smartphones and the internet.

All tags can be scanned and an online link will show the tree details and information. One can also just take the tree national number and enter into the weblink page provided to get the tree information.

This creates an easy tree knowledge source that can be accessed by all citizens interested in their surrounding environment as well as documents an everlasting heritage of local tree recognition.

Most of these trees are on Council land and it is hoped to add to this list. The first trees tagged will be the massive oak tree at the NG Moederkerk, the massive Essenhout tree in Mission Road, Pacaltsdorp, a group of oak trees in Mission Road, Pacaltsdorp, a Rooiblommendebloekoms (Eucalyptus filicifolia) in Knysna Road and two big Palms at George Mediclinic.

So far 11 trees have been identified to initiate the project and the George community will be informed about the tagged trees and the access website through local media outlets. The immediate future project expansion will be to insert more trees around George into the database.

The SFA is also passionate about engaging the local youth in learning activities that raise awareness and importance of trees. The learning aspect will be introduced to High Schools as learning activities.

Competitions amongst learners related to the local trees will be introduced by the Student Body. Their vision is to try and restore the knowledge about trees within our communities. Every child should grow up knowing the trees and their importance to the environment.

Sebelebele said: “We would like to extend our great appreciation to the Municipality for helping to make this project a successful initiative. NMMU is grateful for all the collaborations with George Municipality and all the other stakeholders involved.

Please join us in making this historic legacy project a success for our future children which will greatly benefit from such a knowledge base.

“Let us prove that we do care for the future. This initiative is another example of co-operation and has very real potential to really enhance an appreciation of trees and tree planting in general. It is believed to be the very first initiative of this kind in the country, and SFA would want to extend this to the rest of the Southern Cape in time,” she said.