Brief background and current situation:

Urban Forestry and Nurseries is one of the Units under the Ecosystem Enhancement and Open Space Management Department (EOD). Our key mandate and service offerings are outlines as follows:

Production and nurturing of plants (i.e. trees, indoor plants and shrubs) through our nurseries. Huddle Park Nursery, which is located in Linksfield (Region E) is one of our flagship nursery. There are also two other satellite nurseries located in Soweto (i.e. Mofolo South and Dorothy Nyembe).

Development of urban forestry policies and strategies for the organisation. Provide scientific analysis to issues related to urban forestry within the organisation such as the fight against PSHB and other related trees diseases, and also Regions on suitable trees to plant in their respective areas or regions.

Maintenance of indoor plants to key clients such as Executive Mayor, Members of Mayoral Committee (MMCs), JCPZ’s Head Office and other City’s departments.

Through our two food gardens (i.e. Diepsloot and Lakeside), we have partnered with local communities to produce fresh produce that are sold to communities to ensure the sustainability of these food gardens. We also distribute fruit trees to food insecure areas.

Therefore, the above is a snapshot picture of what Urban Forestry and Nurseries’ Unit is doing towards the attainment of the overarching goals and objectives of the organisation.

The city that's a rain forest

With more than 10-million trees, the City of Johannesburg looks like a rain forest on satellite pictures. There are more than 4-million in private gardens through the city's suburbs and about 2,5-million trees in parks, cemeteries, nature reserves, conservation areas, roadsides and on the city's pavements. These were estimated to be worth around R13-billion in 2004.

Some of Johannesburg's trees date back to the early 1900s, when the then Parks and Estates Department started planting trees on the pavements in the old Johannesburg Region. Initially, street trees were only planted in "white" areas, with trees only being planted on Soweto´s sidewalks from the 1950s. But this has changed and tree-planting in formerly neglected areas is a priority. In 2006/7, City Parks planted 21 653 trees, compared to 3 578 the year before.

The Greening Soweto project, which was launched in 2006 with the planting of 6 000 trees, is Johannesburg's biggest green revolution. It aims to turn the sprawling township into an urban forest through the planting of 200 000 trees.

City Parks grow its own trees and supply surplus stock to communities for greening projects and planting in their gardens. The nursery produces up to 100 000 tree seedlings a year, which, after five years, will be large enough to plant on pavements and in parks.

Why we need trees

Trees don't just make the city look pretty, they have a real environmental function. They control the greenhouse effect: when heat rises from the tar, trees act as a natural coolant.

Carbon dioxide emitted from cars is taken in by trees and converted into oxygen.

An acre of trees, on average, can store 2.6 tons of carbon (pollution) annually and generate enough oxygen daily for 18 people.

A mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year. In city areas without tree cover, streets and parking lots can raise air temperatures to 35 degrees Celsius. Such "heat islands" can cause cities to be five to nine degrees warmer than surrounding areas. Trees also reduce noise levels.