ARBOR DAY

“…let us endeavor then by our words on “Arbor Day” – and all other opportune occasions – to so embellish the world with plant life, trees, flowers and foliage, as to make our earth homes approximate to those which the prophets, poets and seers of all ages have portrayed as the Home in Heaven.” J. Sterling Morton. Mr J Sterling Morton, a newcomer to the treeless plains of Nebraska, was a keen proponent of the beauty and benefit of trees. He persuaded the local agricultural board to set aside a day for planting trees and through his position as editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, encouraged participation in the event by publishing articles on the value of trees for soil protection, fruit and shade and building. Mr. Morton’s home, known as Arbor Lodge, was a testament to his love for trees and so inspired the name of the holiday; Arbor Day. The first Arbor Day was held on 10 April, 1872. On that first day more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska’s communities and on its farms.

In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. The event captured the imagination of people who recognized the need for raising awareness of the value of trees in our society. As sources of building material, food, medicine, and simple scenic beauty, trees play a vital role in the health and well-being of our communities. Collective enthusiasm for the importance of this issue in South Africa inspired the National Government, in 1999, to extend the celebration of Arbor Day to National Arbor Week. From 1 to 7 September every year schools, businesses and organizations are encouraged to participate in community “greening” events to improve the health and beauty of the local environment and propose a green future for South Africa.