The Spekboom Challenge is a social media drive, motivating all South Africans to plant at least 10 Spekbome each, in 2020.


Cape Town, South Africa (2 February 2020) – The City’s Recreation and Parks Department will participate in the Spekboom Challenge with the Newlands Nursery growing 5 000 Spekboom trees to be distributed for planting during Climate Change Month in April this year.

The purpose of this initiative is to increase awareness about the importance of trees in the urban environment. Also known as the Pork Bush or Elephant’s Food, the Spekboom has the ability to absorb more carbon dioxide than any other plant.

Hectare for hectare, Spekboom thicket is ten times more effective than the Amazon rainforest at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One hectare of Spekboom can sequester between 4 and 10 tonnes of carbon per year. This makes it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change and the move towards a zero-carbon world.

The Spekboom Challenge is a social media drive, motivating all South Africans to plant at least 10 Spekbome each, in 2020.

“Planting trees is a vital part of the efforts by the City’s Recreation and Parks Department for Cape Town to be recognised as an Urban Forest. Our participation in the Spekboom Challenge will not only motivate communities to participate, but will also be a catalyst in our drive to Urban Forest recognition. The Spekboom shoots will be planted at area-based events across the city on World Earth Day on 22 April 2020. We hope this will encourage residents to also get involved in tree planting and maintenance,” said the Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Zahid Badroodien.

Apart from being a strong grower and a water-wise plant, Spekboom can live up to 200 years and has the ability to adapt to environmental changes. It can be planted to beautify a garden or open space or act as windbreaks when planted in a lane.

It is also edible with very high nutritional value and can be used in a variety of ways. It is said that a healthy thicket of Spekboom is ten times more effective at removing carbon dioxide from the air than the Amazon Forest, which is known as the ‘lungs of the earth’ for its contribution to cleaning the air and removing carbon dioxide. Needing up to half the water of other plants to survive, Spekboom is an excellent choice to plant and care for.

The City’s Recreation and Parks Department encourages everyone to join the challenge. Share a photo of your newly planted spekboom on social media with the tag #Spekboomchallenge.

The City’s Newlands nursery will be open to the public on Wednesday, 26 February 2020, from 10:00 until 12:00:

  • visitors will have the opportunity to join a tour of the amazing facility where the trees and plants that beautify Cape Town are grown
  • demonstrations will be given on how to grow your own spekboom
  • personnel will share information about the species best suited to Cape Town’s climate; and
  • creating awareness about ways that people intentionally and unintentionally damage invaluable trees will form part of the programme.

The Newlands Nursery provides the City with large trees and vegetative material for greening. They are also responsible for ensuring that tree stock and different types of species are available, as determined by a 5-year tree plan.

Visitors to the nursery will be treated on the diversity of trees that are available for planting. It may also be interesting to see the stock of water-wise species introduced during the drought which is now part of the City’s stock, such as aloes, other succulents and groundcovers.

A bonsai allotment garden can be visited on request as well.

The nursery has approximately 40 000 plants in stock to the value of R10 million. In addition to growing and greening, the nursery also provides decor for special events such as the Cape Town Jazz Festival, Suidoosterfees, Switching on of the Festive Lights and Mayoral events.

“I encourage residents to participate in the Spekboom Challenge. It’s an opportunity for learners, schools, community groups and educational groups to be part of a great initiative. By planting a Spekboom you investment in a clean environment, and participate in conserving and protecting nature in an urban context. Let us all do our part and plant a Spekboom,” added Councillor Badroodien.

Sources: Spekboom Challenge | City of Cape Town 
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