In giving, we receive

The privilege of contributing to change, changes me

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away” Pablo Picasso.

There is no more rewarding action than giving. Whether it be love and affection, sharing your skills, experience and knowledge, contributing money or simply your energy, you will undoubtedly feel better, and even experience joy. There is so much inequality on this planet, so much need, that those of us who can give anything, can make life a little easier for others.

I have been blessed to work on giving back over the past 25 years. I founded Food & Trees for Africa (www.trees.co.za) on my return to South Africa just prior to the great Nelson Mandela’s
release from jail. My great passion was to improve lives and landscapes through working consciously towards a more sustainable planet and thriving communities. I poured my energy and all I had learned into growing the non-profit, focusing on the benefits of greening for disadvantaged communities and the environment.

I introduced permaculture food gardening to South Africa in 1991, lobbied the new democratic government to include urban forestry, permaculture and greening in policies and built the FTFA brand. I also founded the Carbon Protocol of South Africa, the Climate Change Leadership and Climate Hero Awards and the first South African carbon calculator.

These issues are, at last, becoming main stream and recognised as vital and FTFA’s successful six national programmes (Trees for Homes; Bamboo for Africa (both registered through the Verified Carbon Standard); Food Gardens for Africa; Trees for All; FEED Africa (Farmer Eco Enterprise Development) and EduPlant) are indeed giving back.

These initiatives have led to the planting of over 4.6 million trees, thousands of natural food gardens, hectares of bamboo and several organic farms, and have led to healthier lives for impoverished communities, more sustainable green environments and increased awareness of our impact on the planet.

Through this I live fulfilled and grateful, knowing that one person can give so much and together we can give even more. For it is indeed in giving that we receive….

In 1990 , Jeunesse Park established Trees for Africa, South Africa’s first environmental
communications and public relations company. Today, the renamed Food and Trees for Africa (FTFA) is South Africa’s only national greening and food gardening non-governmental organisation that promotes greening; sustainable use and management of natural resources; and food security.

A true story of success to significance

An interview with Hendrik Marais

Q:  Have you always been altruistically focused and concerned about your community at large?
A:  I guess so.  Always is a long time, buol.t at Varsity I was already involved in politics and student organisations and I taught Sunday School.

Q:  Did your desire to give back grow stronger as you got older?
A:  Yes. Of course, when time or money is in extra short supply, one tends to think less of giving back and focus more on a surviving.  But I always wanted to make a difference.

Q:  Do you believe that everyone has the responsibility to look outside of themselves and to make a difference in whatever way they can?
A:  Absolutely!  We are living in a much better world to what our ancestors had because they left the world better than they found it.  We owe it to our children and their children to do the same.

Q:  Does the average South African do enough in your opinion?
A.  Probably not.  We do not seem to have a well-developed culture of looking out for the generations to come.

Q:  What needs to happen if the next generation is to succeed?
A:  We need to create value.  Value being the difference between input and output.  Sometimes value can be called profit and measured in money, but certainly not always.  If there is enough “value” to go around there will also be enough work for everyone.  Everyone will be creating value by producing more than his/her cost.  That means we have to educate, develop and empower the next generation with both the ambition and skills to create value in the different forms our society needs and wants it in.

We are currently experiencing the negative symptoms of a society wanting to consume more than it produces.  Crime, corruption and unemployment are examples of the symptoms that I believe will fade away if we get education and the culture of creating value right.

Q:  Tell us more about your interest in educational upliftment and some of the projects you headed up throughout the years.
A:  Thirty years ago, when helping my own children with their math homework in primary school, I realised we were teaching children to be consumers rather than entrepreneurs.  There was not a single example in their set books where the words business, profit, loss or cost was used.  The few problems involving money read something like, “you are buying a hamburger costing R17 and paying with a R20 note – how much change should you get?”

I wrote to and canvassed the curriculum writers to use the “hidden curriculum” to influence our culture by using examples that would put children on the other side of the till or desk – to start thinking like an entrepreneurs.

I also managed to get some daily newspapers to publish short stories on school children earning their own pocket money.  I sponsored the prize money given to the children whose stories were published.  At first the schools were against the idea of children doing anything beyond sport and school work.  We solved that problem by getting IBM to donate computers to the schools of the finalists every year.  This action eventually led to entrepreneur days at schools and new enthusiasm for business amongst children form a young age.

My faith in the power of entrepreneurship and creating value helped to create the unique Business School at UJ (then RAU) and establishing Technikon RSA, now part of Unisa in Roodepoort.  And of course, the BrainBoosters initiative that I am involved in at the moment.

Q:  Have your give back initiatives taken more of your focus in your later years?
A:  Only in the last few years with BrainBoosters.  From the age of 25 I focused on giving back as much as possible – but only to the extent that it didn’t detract from my business in a big way.  Even though it costs time, energy and money to give back, the personal growth and rewards for doing it more than makes up for the sacrifices.

Q:  Tell us about how giving of yourself has changed your life.
A.  Long ago I read an interview with president Reagan where he stated that anyone can really make a huge difference to the world – on condition he doesn’t want credit for it!  That was a profound and very valuable piece of wisdom for me.

By doing the right thing, without expecting thanks, praise or recognition, it takes away a lot of stress and makes the experience a whole lot more fulfilling.  You get to meet and work with lots of wonderful people sharing your enthusiasm.  Creating a successful business is very satisfying, but to create something that will benefit and grow other people is satisfying on a totally different level.

We all want to make a difference, to leave the world better than we found it.  Life, and the joy of being alive, and remaining enthusiastic about life, is certainly enhanced in your later years by not just living for yourself but for others too.  It has certainly done that for me.

Click here to read Hendrik’s profile.

Jeunesse Park represents South Africa on The Climate Reality Project

The decrease in rainfall, accompanied by higher temperatures and more extreme weather events already visible in South Africa (such as the recent violent hail storms that caused severe damage to crops and floods in Port Elizabeth) food prices are spiking exacerbating food insecurity.

FEED Africa is addressing this by developing sustainable farms through training and mentoring communities to enter the green economy as organic farmers. FEEDS’s organic farms are proven to sink carbon and can also provide jobs and nutritious food at affordable prices to local communities.  These farms are currently breaking the myth that organic produce “costs more” by selling at prices that are comparative to conventionally grown produce.

In addition, the question of water was raised. South Africa is a water scarce country and thus very susceptible to shortages and any changes in rainfall patterns.  Jeunesse noted that a significant proportion of our surface water resources are already fully allocated, with projected figures illustrating that South Africa will run out of groundwater by 2030.  Increased temperatures and changing weather is predicted to take South Africa into extreme drought conditions through this century.

An important question that Jeunesse and Quinton were asked was whether the people and the government of South Africa are relating food insecurity to climate change.  Their answer was sadly, no.  South Africa’s National Development Plan mentions both climate change and food security but unfortunately does not connect the two.  Farmers, however, are definitely connecting the dots between climate change and our ability to produce and provide sufficient food and may become the first active responders to climate change.

South Africa is particularly vulnerable to global warming because, although the poor are only minor contributors to climate change, they are the most vulnerable and, hence will be the most impacted.  The rest of Africa is possibly even worse off.

Maggie Fox, President and CEO of the Climate Reality Project, thanked Jeunesse, stating, “You have such high standards and passion for our shared mission.  The panel was quite wonderful and we love working with you.”

The 24 Hours of Reality Dirty Weather Report can be seen on www.climaterealityproject.org

Click here to watch Hour 19, the Pan-Africa broadcast.

Source: www.trees.co.za

67 minute attitude

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

 – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela has just celebrated his 94th birthday.  It warms my heart to see so many volunteer in some shape or form in celebration of hisbirthday.  The “67″ represents the number of years he served the Nation of South Africa.  How wonderful it would be if we rather had a mindset of giving back in this way more often.

Not many of us are looking forward to ageing.  However, I know many who are an inspiration as they age, living their lives to their full potential.  In my work I have observed that people who age better are those who have the capacity for learning, changing what they think about their experiences and imagining other ways that their life and the world could be.

As the CEO of The Refirement Network (www.refirementnetwork.com) my main role is to research and understand what the baby boomers of South Africa will experience as they head towards retirement.  We will live longer, feel that we can continue to work and many may want to volunteer or find an “Encore” career in the social sector.  There is so much need for skill and wisdom in this sector and volunteering as part of your journey would be great idea.

The vision I have is that baby boomers both from South Africa and elsewhere in the world can bring their knowledge, time and skill to help bring about change in the education, health, environmental or job creation arenas.  The time may be 67 minutes, 67 hours, 67 days or just a change of heart and attitude that enables you to build bridges and lend a helping hand.

In 2009, while doing a certificate in social entrepreneurship around this topic, an interesting number jumped out at me.  Baby Boomers were born from 19-46 to 19-64. Nelson Mandela’s prison number is 46-6-64.  The “6″ in the middle did not fall into place until I saw the movie Invictus.  On the day South Africa won the 1995 Rugby World Cup, Nelson Mandela wore Francois Pienaar’ s number 6 jersey.  The number 6 reflects the deep understanding of humble leadership shown by this influential leader.

Here are some ideas to ponder over:

  • Visit someone older than you on a regular basis
  • Offer help at a school or pre-school near you
  • Share your skills at a community centre or church group
  • Mentor a younger person
  • Go back and learn a new skill that you can then use in the next season of life
  • Offer to babysit or help a young person who is struggling to cope with the pace of life
  • Get involved in some environmental project
  • Approach a non-profit within your area of passion and offer some time and skill

The list can go on and on.  The most important ingredient is a decision from you to go out and JUST DO IT.

I challenge you to not only put on your number 6 jersey but to have a change of heart and build a mindset of a volunteer and make a difference wherever you are.

South African Climate Change Leaders 2012

Significantly greater response to the threats of climate change resulted in the toughest year yet for judges of the Climate Change Leadership Awards, who announced the 10 category winners at a carbon neutral event in Sandton on 29 March 2012.  This green competition and awards is the first in Africa to recognise, reward, motivate and celebrate businesses, communities, youth, schools and individuals leading the way in climate change response and mitigation.

These third annual awards demonstrate that they are achieving their desired result with improved quality of entries from schools, greater diversity from individuals and communities, and growing carbon offset innovation from SMEs.  The Local Municipalities category, however, had a unanimously clear winner and the private sector are growing from strength to strength in their efforts to deal with climate risks and opportunities.

At the ceremony Andile Ncontsa of Litha Communications announced the evolution to the continent wide Climate Hero Awards Africa, which will kick off on October 1, 2012,  World Habitat Day.

The Climate Hero Awards Africa has its origins in the resounding success of the Climate Change Leadership Awards,” said Ncontsa.  “As a continental response to climate mitigation, the Awards were established with the realisation that tackling the climate change challenge cannot be confined to artificial borders but require a concerted effort from all stakeholders in society across the continent.”

This year the scope of categories was expanded and judging methodologies evolved to sustain the spirit of the awards and cater to growing interest across the board.

Winners of the Climate Heroes of the Climate Change Leadership Awards, 2012

Schools or Youth Groups sponsored by Pick n Pay

In first place is Mailakgang Primary School with its peer educator concept for recycling, tree planting, food gardening, and water conservation linked to climate change awareness, that reaches beyond its own school of children to neighbouring schools.

Strelitzia Secondary was placed second and Inkwenkwezi High School came in third for linking recycling, tree planting, food gardening and water conservation programmes to climate change and actively introduced climate change awareness programmes, both in the school and in its community, in their own individual way.

Communities and individuals sponsored by the South African Post Office

First place went to The Reporting Development Network Africa, for demystifying climate change, with a specific focus on community education and training the media. It interrogates the way that issues of climate change, food security and overall global sustainability are being framed by journalists when they communicate to the general public.

Second place was awarded to JNF Walter Sisulu Environmental Centre which developed a high impact programme with a broad reach in the area characterised by high unemployment, low income and little left of nature.  The centre describes an alternative, low carbon future to 288 schools and 10 000 learners a year, creates jobs and is transforming the community

Daniel Robinson scooped third for Project 90 by 2030, which makes changing a lifestyle possible through high impact carbon clubs in Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, office carbon calculators and comprehensive lists of carbon reduction opportunities.

Waste Minimisation sponsored by ABI, the softdrink division of SAB

Foodbank South Africa was the outright winner.  It is a project clearly dealing with both aspects of climate change, mitigation (avoidance of emissions from landfills) and adaptation (dealing with food security), by reclaiming food which would potentially be wasted and redistributing this to those that really need it.

Soul Foundation, with its integrated waste management systems and river restoration programmes, a project exemplary in linking directly to climate change, was awarded second.

Bergvliet High, an ongoing project for 22 years involving the whole community, multiple projects , impacting in various ways claimed third prize in this category.

Private Sector

The Agriculture and Food category was won by The Coca-Cola Company, which is addressing climate change through two main areas: cutting carbon emissions and increasing energy efficiency.  The judges awarded a special mention to a local firm producing what is believed to be the country’s first carbon-neutral cheesery: Fairview.

The Energy, Minerals and Industrials category winner was won Gold Fields Limited, which has been aligning its business with emerging, global low carbon emissions economies since 2005, and has a clearly defined carbon management strategy, and multiple energy efficiency projects.

Santam won the Financials category for its part sponsorship of a research project in partnership with the CSIR, University of Cape Town and WWF, the outcome of which illustrates how human-induced impacts on the ecological buffering capacity of the system have an equal or greater impact on risk, as compared to future climate change predictions.

RISO Africa, who won the Other Corporate Services category, has an off-the-grid printing solution called Risolar, which makes it possible for rural educational institutions without electricity to print 90 pages per minute using solar power.

Pick n Pay’s new world-class, eco-friendly stores and its ongoing commitment to climate change education programme ensured their win in the retail category.

The SME category was won by Earth Patrol for many reasons summarised by its depth and breadth of commitment to environmentally sustainable solutions for its customers and partners.
The Municipality of Cape Town was the runaway winner of the new Local Municipalities category for its long term sustainability strategy, a string of deployed initiatives, and setting the national example. A special mention goes to eThekwini Municipality which implemented a range of activities throughout the past year.

Schools/Youth Group category winners share R35 000 in gift vouchers from Pick n Pay amongst the three winners, and winners in the Community and Individual category share R100 000 from South African Post Office.  Waste Minimisation heroes get financial assistance from  Amalgamated Beverage Industries, with educational courses sponsored by Global Carbon Exchange.

Ensuring food security through permaculture gardening

Since 30 January, EduPlant, the national programme that teaches educators, learners and communities how to sustainably grow their own food, has been rolling out 45 workshops across all nine provinces.  The workshops will teach participants permaculture gardening methods as a viable means of addressing food security in South Africa.

EduPlant is the South African schools’ food gardening and greening programme and competition that was started by national greening and food gardening social enterprise FTFA in 1994.  It began as a simple greening competition in Gauteng province only and has now developed into one of the most effective national school programmes in the country, focusing on sustainable development through greening and permaculture food gardening.  EduPlant has three funders, namely Absa, Engen and the Woolworths Trust, while FTFA coordinates the programme nationally.

“Permaculture is now seen by many schools to be a definite way forward for food security and improved natural resource use and management. It has given hope to many for a brighter and more sustainable future,” says Joanne Carty, EduPlant Programme Manager.

The programme encourages youth to live in harmony with the environment while reaping the benefits of healthy food and a more eco-conscious lifestyle.  The National Department of Basic Education supports the initiative as it means the learners who are fed from the permaculture food gardens are better able to learn.

In 2011, EduPlant focused on imparting skills through a series of cluster workshops to allow local schools to share information and knowledge.  36 clusters were identified around the country. Up to fifty schools in a vicinity participated in each cluster.  A series of six workshops will take place at each of these identified clusters.  The main themes being covered at these workshops include: Effective garden design and layout; soil and fertility; cultivation; staple food systems; health, food and nutrition; plant propagation and seed saving; integration of trees and Introduction to global warming.  During the workshops schools were also provided with plant materials, seeds, trees and educational resources to help to make their permaculture food gardens more sustainable.

The workshops equip educators and parents across the country with the necessary skills to allow them to cultivate permaculture gardens in their own schools and, in this way, help address food shortages in their communities.  Many of the educators who have participated in previous workshops have become so engaged in the permaculture way of gardening that they share their new found skills, resulting in more gardens and more sustainably grown food in their communities.

Food security is an urgent issue with millions in Africa going to bed hungry every night and this will be exacerbated by climate change. It is thus vital to teach communities, and especially the youth, that for minimal financial investment they can sustainably and independently grow their own good food and improve their quality of life,” says Jeunesse Park, Founder of Food & Trees for Africa.

Even though the workshops are aimed at educators, the success of the permaculture food gardens often depends on a team effort which ropes in learners, community members and parents.

The school’s permaculture garden then becomes a rallying point for various sectors of the community to work towards a shared objective – literally benefiting from the fruits of their labour.

All schools participating in the workshops have the opportunity to enter the EduPlant competition this year.  Schools stand the chance of winning great prizes as well as a trip to Gauteng for representatives of the 60 finalist schools in October where they will spend four days in exciting workshops and presentations aimed at broadening their skills before the overall winners are announced.

Orange trees for Indigo

Chartered Wealth Solutions gives back

On the 24th of September 2011, as part of the Moving Planet initiatives around the world, Indigo Skate Camp set out to plant 111 orange trees in and around the Zulu village of Isithumba in the Valley of 1 000 Hills, Durban.

This was an ideal follow up from a Plant-For-The-Planet visit to Indigo Skate Camp in August to promote growing trees to offset carbon emissions.  Through a partnership with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), Chartered Wealth Solutions was able to provide Indigo with an abundance of trees.

Chartered Wealth Solutions assist their clients in retiring successfully by firstly, determining their life goals and dreams; a vision of the life they want to lead in retirement, and then, by designing a unique and thorough retirement plan that can fund this vision.

We encourage our clients to consider fulfilling the non-monetary areas of their lives when planning their retirement.  ‘Giving back’ is just one of the eight areas on our ‘wheel of balance’ for achieving a successful retirement.  For this reason, we have decided to donate the money that would have been spent on end of year gifts for our clients, to Indigo Skate Camp.  We are delighted to be supporting this initiative, together with and on behalf of our clients.” says John Campbell.

On 24 September, there was a great turnout with over 80 Plant-For-The-Planet ambassadors aged between 5 and 20 who were there to plant for their future health and the health of their planet.

Says Dallas Oberholzer, CEO of Indigo Skate Park, “It seems a bit incongruent preaching to some of the lowest impact people on our planet about living a sustainable lifestyle when they have such a comparatively low ecological footprint. But this message needs to be taken everywhere as we can all contribute to the survival of our planet and its inhabitants.”

This initiative will have direct benefits for the community at large particularly during the winter months when immune systems are weaker.  The typical diet in this community lacks fresh food intake.

A note on the skate park…

The idea of introducing skateboarding to a rural Zulu community has proved to be a stepping stone to the opportunities tourism (and a skate camp) can provide.  Skateboarding to our expanding group of youths is more than a fun activity, it is a way to meet friends from faraway places, develop social skills and learn firsthand about the hospitality industry.

The local Zulu chiefs in the valley have given their blessings to the project and have given further land to build a concrete skate park and further accommodation.  There is also a fledgling organic farming project as they would like to have a low impact effect on the natural environment. Intending to live in balance with nature and respect the ancient knowledge and customs of the Zulu nation is the credo of this NGO.

 

Feed Africa

Food and Trees for Africa launches Farmer Eco-Enterprise Development Programme (FEED AFRICA)

The global crisis in food prices has made substantial headlines, obviating the need for detailing its severity.  Suffice to say global maize and wheat prices have soared by up to 80% in the last year, and the price of rice has doubled.  One billion on the planet are already severely malnourished and food riots are increasing globally.  Food insecurity is thus acknowledged, as is the fact that the poor are being hit hardest, particularly in Africa.

South Africa has an opportunity to present solutions that can be scaled up across the continent, as well as providing its own poor with the choice of livelihoods and dignity.  But small farmers often lack the managerial and technical competencies necessary to succeed in the highly competitive farming industry.  Implementing projects with poor communities that have impact, in terms of employment and income generation, and sustainability, in terms of long term commercial viability is currently high of the agenda of Government.

Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFAs) new programme, Farmer Eco Enterprise Development (FEED), implements projects utilizing management, training, mentorship and marketing.  FEED addresses the needs of emerging farmers to enable them to become players in the mainstream agricultural economy.  Implementing projects with poor communities that have impact, in terms of employment and income generation, sustainability and long term commercial viability, is currently high on the agenda of government and international agencies, and offers excellent Enterprise Development, Corporate Social Investment and BEE opportunities.

Coordinating FEED Africa for FTFA is Quinton Naidoo, a man with a wealth of experience in business and agricultural development who previously headed Lonrho Agribusiness, which contracted growers throughout Africa to produce for its value chain which supplies numerous international retail giants.  Quinton has also worked with Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade & Industry.

A FEED project is already underway in the Bronkhorstspruit area and the investment into community has been made by one of SA’s corporate giants under the mantle of their Social & Labour Plan.  This project is aimed at providing sustainable economic growth and diversification in the communities where the sponsor operates.  Under the agreement, FEED Africa will work with local subsistence farmers to develop a farming cooperative that will deliver the yield, volume and quality of production necessary to establish a commercially viable agricultural business.  The agreement is the sponsor will provide the funding necessary for FEED Africa to design and develop the infrastructure, irrigation, farming and greenhouse facilities necessary for the cooperative to be able to produce on a commercially viable scale.

Quinton Naidoo, FEED AFRICA commented, “I am delighted to have been chosen to develop this project.  The time is ripe for a new agrarian transformation.  The need for food security and sustainable livelihoods among the poor is crucial.  FEED enables emerging farmers to join the mainstream agricultural economy and the opportunity to replicate similar projects across South Africa can have a significant impact on poor communities and their sustainability”.

FEED presents a practical, pragmatic and scalable model of how business can help affect this new and necessary agrarian transformation.

For more information please contact info@trees.org.za.

Carbon Neutral flying to King Shaka International Airport for COP17

In the build up to COP17 Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) were excited to be teaming up with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) to help visitors arriving in Durban to make their journey a carbon neutral one.  In the face of climate change, and specifically anthropogenic warming due to carbon emissions, the reality of the cost to the environment of delegates, rock stars and world leaders flying in from around the world, cannot be ignored.

However, the legacy of COP17 need not be an enormous carbon footprint.  As South Africa’s longest standing climate action and greening social and environmental enterprise, FTFA offers all an opportunity to leave their tree in Africa to help solve this dilemma.  ACSA’s King Shaka International Airport in Durban celebrated one year on 1 May 2011.  The airport is currently handling almost 5 million passengers annually and with the current trend of an increase in passenger numbers in the past few months the airport was well and truly set as the gateway to Africa for COP17.  Passengers that arriving at King Shaka International Airport from around the world, will not only be able to calculate the carbon emissions generated from their flight but also offset these, as soon as they land.

This can be done easily and efficiently by using the My Tree in Africa carbon calculator, the first South African calculator of its kind!  This uses the Global Greenhouse Gas Reporting Protocols which aim to harmonize GHG accounting and reporting standards internationally, to ensure that different trading platforms and other climate related initiatives adopt consistent approaches to GHG accounting.

The total carbon emissions produced can then be offset by buying a tree, or trees.  Trees act as natural carbon sinks, sequestering atmospheric carbon dioxide.  What’s more, this can all be done straight from visitor’s mobile phones as soon as they land by going to another groundbreaking first, the mytrees.mobi website.

International, or local visitors, wanting to commemorate their time in Durban can go to mytreeinafrica.org from the nearest computer to buy their tree(s).  Each purchase comes with a certificate of the specific tree bought which also serves as a reminder of their commitment.

Alternatively, by simply walking straight out of the International arrivals hall at King Shaka and heading for the ACSA FTFA stand, visitors can guarantee that their flight was a carbon neutral one. The friendly people at the FTFA stand will calculate individual carbon emissions as well as the number of trees needed to offset these emissions.  It’s as easy as that!

Visitors can also make a pledge on FTFA’s Climatree, a beautiful wire art baobab sponsored by Pick n Pay.  By buying a leaf for the Climatree at only R10, individuals can make their own personal climate change pledge.  Each leaf represents a commitment towards a lower carbon future.  For every 10 leaves added a tree is planted for a disadvantaged community in a barren, dusty township, adjacent to the airport precinct.

The Airports Company of South Africa always strives to give back to the community, and this way it can help spread environmental awareness and change further than its boundaries.  ACSA staff will assist FTFA in the planting of the trees purchased during COP 17, in the form of a sponsored team-building event.

While the outcome of COP17 remains uncertain, there is one certainty that visitors can hold on to, that while international leaders may not be able to agree on how to reduce our global carbon emissions, they attended COP17 knowing exactly how to reduce their own.

ACSA and FTFA are working together to leave a green legacy for future generations.

Feeding the planet

AVIS offsets vehicle emissions

Avis Rent a Car continue to contribute to their sustainability drive and in a recent collaboration with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA), planted a hectare of bamboo plants at Blue Disa, south west of Johannesburg.

Chief Executive of Avis, Wayne Duvenage says, “Our goal was to offset vehicle  emissions from this year’s Put Foot Rally, an event that saw crews travel throughout Africa discovering  the many loved, admired and respected destinations and in  support of one of South Africa’s young and dynamic charities: `The Bobs for Good Foundation”.

Avis has always believed that environmental responsibility is one of their top priorities to help make the world a little greener.  With this in mind, Avis partnered with Food & Trees for Africa (FTFA) in their Bamboo for Africa programme. Amongst some 1 200 uses, Bamboo also provides a high impact carbon sequestration opportunity with multi faceted community beneficiation and is the largest and fastest growing plant on the planet.  The programme is introduced to the community with plantings at public schools and on open/tribal land.

Blue Disa is a community based organisation on the outskirts of Lawley Township 25Km south west of Johannesburg.  Reverend Kopano Mohapi is the CEO and runs a feeding scheme for 300 children on a daily basis and is entrenched in the local community development.  They applied for and were allocated a derelict farm adjoining the community, which is being developed to become a hybrid food crop and energy plantation farm.  The farm will produce food and sustainable solid and liquid fuels to the community.  The sponsors such as Avis, who support this community development, will in return get VCS credits to offset their carbon footprints.

From the data collected it was calculated that 26 bamboo plants would need to be planted, but Avis chose to increase that number in order to fill a hectare of land, planting 231 bamboo plants in total.  The bamboo was planted by a dedicated team from Avis and partners, FTFA.

Avis was able to fund this project with the recycling rebates received from EnviroServ, who were appointed in May 2010 to assist with the management of its integrated waste management programme, which is largely focused on office waste and household recyclables.

 I recently presented at Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality and believe that climate change and environmental issues need to enter the public domain so more people become aware of the role they can play in ensuring a sustainable future.  Avis demonstrates that when being green is a company policy, the impacts are powerfully felt.

We have made it part of our core mission to consciously make an effort in bettering our carbon footprint through initiatives such as this one,” concludes Duvenage.