Photo Credit: Supplied

With Earth Day around the corner, community cleanup non-profit organisation (NPO) Better Bedfordview is proud and delighted to have had the opportunity to save some of the neighbourhood’s famous oak trees and to give a neglected local park some love.



Bedfordview, South Africa (16 April 2024) – Better Bedfordview volunteers and supporters are gearing up for Earth Day on the 22nd of April 2024 by working to restore the local park and save the old oak trees located there.

“If you know the Eastern Johannesburg suburb of Bedfordview, you will have seen the landmark oak trees that line Van Buuren Road. It is a truly beautiful street shaded by a leafy archway of majestic old trees,” says Marina Constas, chairperson of volunteer-led Better Bedfordview.

“Opinions differ, but some say that these oaks were planted by British cavalry officers who were based in Bedfordview during the Second Anglo-Boer War, which took place from 1899 until 1902. Another account is that the trees were planted by a British regiment at the end of World War II.

“When Better Bedfordview learnt that trees were being cut down illegally on Van Buuren Road to make way for a new development, the team acted immediately. One legendary oak tree had been felled and it was discovered that the developer planned to remove another three trees on the same corner. An urgent court application was lodged, with Better Bedfordview as the second applicant, and this led to an undertaking from the developer to leave the trees alone while certain property ownership and by-law questions are resolved. So, for now, our community’s beloved, historic oak trees are safe,” says Constas.

She stresses that Better Bedfordview is not opposed to development.

“We will, however, ensure that developers working in our neighbourhood abide by the law and are mindful of the environmental concerns of residents. In the same way that Better Bedfordview is working closely with estate agents, to make sure that our beautiful suburb is not littered with illegal signs, we are committed to ensuring that developers follow the letter of the law and do not ride roughshod over the community and the environment.”

When Better Bedfordview isn’t saving trees, the NPO cleans, restores and maintains roads, pavements, parks and public spaces, with funding and support from caring, community-minded residents and businesses. Better Bedfordview provides employment for 21 previously unemployed people in the NPO’s cleanup team. A recent project is restoring Oriel Park, a beautiful Bedfordview green space that also has a long history.

“Who doesn’t love visiting a beautiful park, to exercise or just relax, unwind and enjoy nature? Our local parks are so important. They are fresh, green havens away from traffic jams, office desks, aircon and artificial light. They benefit the environment and our physical and mental health and wellbeing. We need to treasure and preserve our green spaces like Oriel Park,” Constas states.

To do this, Better Bedfordview has teamed up with the Oriel North Residents Association (ONRA), and the park is getting a new lease on life. The Better Bedfordview team has been cleaning, mowing and brush cutting so that everyone can enjoy Oriel Park all the time.

Residents have taken to social media to commend the improvements. “Wow, what a transformation,” wrote Tanya Sakota. Lee-Ann Andreka commented: “Thank you! It’s looking so much better. I can take my doggies there again.”

“Along with walkers, runners, dog walkers, birdwatchers, picnickers and people using the gym equipment, we were happy to spot some neighbours practising karate in the park recently, too,” says Constas. “This gem in our community is shining again. It belongs to us all and together we can preserve it. Municipalities and local governments are declining globally, and civic organisations like Better Bedfordview are increasingly taking on crucial roles in maintaining neighbourhoods and developing and uniting communities. It is up to each of us to decide what sort of neighbourhood we want to live in and leave for future generations, and to do whatever it takes to make it better to benefit everyone.”

You can find out more about Better Bedfordview by visiting the Better Bedfordview websitefollowing them on Facebook or emailing

Sources: Supplied
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Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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