Seeds of knowledge, trees of tomorrow

Celebrating National Arbor Month in Schools with BirdLife SA

In the vibrant tapestry of South Africa’s natural wonders, BirdLife South Africa stands as a beacon of hope and conservation. As the custodians of avian heritage, this dedicated organization has been instrumental in shaping the nation’s understanding and appreciation for its winged inhabitants. Through their tireless efforts, they have not only safeguarded endangered species but also kindled a profound connection between communities and the avian world.

Founded on the principles of education, advocacy, and action, BirdLife South Africa has become a pivotal force in the country’s conservation landscape. With an unwavering commitment to protecting the diverse avifauna of South Africa, they have embarked on a journey that goes beyond preserving birdlife; it encompasses nurturing the very essence of nature itself.


Each year, BirdLife South Africa highlights a Bird of the Year with a campaign to raise awareness of that species. In 2023 the Bird of the Year is the Cape Parrot, a flagship species for forest habitat. With habitat loss and disease threatening its survival, the Cape Parrot is listed as Endangered in South Africa and conservation measures and awareness campaigns are applied to save it and its forest habitat.


The theme for this year was ‘Forests and health’ and during September they have been acknowledging the cultural values, symbolic functions and ecosystem services of South Africa’s forests. Forests feature in language, history, art, religion, medicine, politics and even social structure, and they provide a venue for religious, social and healing ceremonies.

National Arbor Month is celebrated annually in September. With the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) as its custodian, the campaign aims to make communities aware of the need to conserve, protect and plant trees for the environmental benefits they provide and for people’s livelihoods. National Arbor Month focuses on tree planting and also promotes the greening initiative, which is an integrated approach to the planting, care and management of all vegetation in urban and rural areas to secure multiple benefits for communities.



On 7 September, BirdLife South Africa and the Ingula Nature Reserve’s environmental team went to Umvulo Primary (near Besters in KwaZulu-Natal) and Mphophomo Combined (near Van Reenen in the Free State) schools to celebrate Arbor Month. More than 200 learners and educators participated and seven trees were generously donated by Tuinhuis Nursery in Ladysmith and planted at the schools. A monetary donation was also received from Ladysmith birders. These donations ensured a very successful day and campaign.

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