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Pretoria – Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Senzeni Zokwana has called on forestry partners to give life to a broad national greening project as a means of ensuring a brighter future for children. Minister Zokwana said the department has embarked upon a number of initiatives aimed at greening of townships through the efforts of government, NGO’s and corporate support.

The Minister was addressing media at the opening of the XIV World Forestry Congress currently taking place at iNkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on Monday. He said for South Africa, tree planting efforts should also be seen as part of redressing the inequalities of the past, adding that the potential is clearly there to expand such programmes by tenfold and more. “It is my sincere hope that one of the lasting legacies of this congress will be a more comprehensive campaign to bring about the greening of our townships with trees, which will change the character of our townships, bring shade, nutrition and all the associated benefits of trees to our communities,” said Minister Zokwana.

The World Forestry Congress, which runs from 7-11 September, is an event of the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) held every 6 years. It’s the first time the event is hosted on the African soil. Held under the theme “Forestry and People: investing in Sustainable future”, the congress is attended by over 3 000 delegates from across the world, who will deliberate and map out a common future for forests and forestry around the world.

The delegates including political leaders, policy makers, industry, academics, students and civil society organizations will be engaging in a wide ranging set of discussions on issues impacting on the forestry sector.

The Minister said he was particularly pleased at the engagement of the youth from all the continents at the congress, as they are the future hope. “I am certain that their involvement bodes well for the implementation of the changes, which this congress identifies must take place to ensure a sustainable future for children and future generations.”