The City of Mbombela has been impacted by climate change and drought in particular, which affects tree growth, threatens species and degrades habitat. These impacts have necessitated the planting of drought-resistant trees. The city began planting trees in rural townships in conjunction with the Department of Environment, Forestry & Fisheries, and have involved community members in this work, which also contributes to carbon storage and sequestration efforts. The city has developed an alien species control plan, which works in tandem with tree planting to enable the removal of unwanted vegetation in order to conserve water resources while also contributing to biodiversity. A wetlands inventory also guides this work, as it identifies important wetland areas to preserve for the purposes of disaster risk reduction, climate resilience, water resource management, and biodiversity maintenance.
The municipality is required, according to its Climate Change Strategy, to implement climate actions that contribute to the country’s mitigation commitments. However, since the trees are not monitored, the reports are based on assumptions and often inaccurate. Technology is lacking to monitor tree growth and health, and therefore the city has not been able to track progress over time.
The city requires assistance in developing a GIS-based tree monitoring system or tool to monitor tree growth over time and to quantify carbon sequestration. This would accompany the planting of trees in rural areas, housing projects, along streets and in parks. The city is also requesting support in establishing municipal nurseries to supply trees.
This type of system would facilitate tree planting and give the city the ability to monitor trees and track growth, tree health and carbon storage over time. Most households and food gardens are owned and managed by women, who would therefore be direct beneficiaries of the program since they are paid stipends to plant trees. There are a multitude of cross-cutting benefits to biodiversity, livelihoods and food provision from additional fruit trees. The city would also benefit culturally from the sharing of indigenous knowledge with the project team on tree species types and observations regarding ecological and tree species changes over the years.