Friends run Cape Town marathon with tree saplings strapped to their backs to promote planting of native trees

A group of friends ran the Cape Town marathon with indigenous tree saplings strapped to their backs to encourage the planting of native trees.

The group, who ran the 42.2km marathon route last Sunday (15 September), were promoting the planting of native trees amid a nationwide push to replace invasive species with indigenous one to cope with drought and climate change. They raised funds to plant 2,000 trees in Khayelitsha, one of Cape Town’s biggest townships, where many of the friends come from.

One of the marathon runners, Siyabulela Sokomani carried a wild olive sapling on his back. The 34-year-old activist is the managing director of Shoots & Roots, a tree sapling grower and tree supplying business based in the West Cape. He said: “There were no trees in the township where I grew up.”

Native trees are an important aspect of conservation efforts since they do not need as much water as those that are non-native to the environment.

Last year, Cape Town suffered its worst drought in a century, nearly running out of water and forcing authorities to enforce severe water rationing and set up public water points.

In Cape Town, native plants are becoming more than just a means of protecting water sources; they are giving hope that the city can survive bouts of droughts and water shortages. Following last year’s drought, businesses in the South African city put $3.7m into a fund to eradicate invasive water-hungry trees around Cape Town, a move that would top up reservoirs with billions of litres of water.

From 2001 to 2018, South Africa lost 1.34 million hectares of tree cover, equivalent to a 22% decrease since 2000, according to Global Forest Watch.

Image Credit: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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