Tshwane’s jacaranda trees should be conserved, preserved, protected
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Pretoria - The City of Tshwane’s jacaranda trees should be conserved, preserved, protected and regarded as natural features of cultural significance wherever they stand in bloom.
This is according to historian and archaeologist Anton van Vollenhoven.
Yesterday, he said jacaranda trees, which are already blooming across the capital, should be protected as they were natural cultural heritage resources of importance.
Van Vollenhoven was speaking during a virtual presentation on jacaranda trees organised by the Ditsong Museum in collaboration with the City's arts, culture and library services division, and the community and social development services department.
As it stood, he said there existed legislation in which the trees were already recognised as a natural heritage due to the fact that once cultural significance was attributed to a natural phenomenon it had the potential of having cultural significance.
And although jacaranda trees were not native to South Africa or Pretoria, van Vollenhoven said they had a long-standing history that started as far back as November 16, 1906, when JD Clark donated 200 trees for the 51st anniversary of the founding of Pretoria.
Clark, a florist, nurseryman and seedsman, donated the trees as he felt they were just beautiful.
The first planting of the tree started along streets such as Bosman Street, formerly Koch Street, and Arcadia Park.
Frank Walton Jameson was regarded as 'Jacaranda Jim' and was also famous for his efforts to plant jacaranda trees in Pretoria.
Van Vollenhoven said the tree’s existence had not been without its fair share of challenges, as environmental groups had wanted to remove them as far back as the 1970s and 1980s, as they were viewed as threats to the environment.
He said things escalated to a point where in 1983 they were declared invasive plants. As a result, new ones could not be planted and those already planted had to be left to die of natural causes.
It was only through public intervention that the legislation was eventually changed.
Ultimately, the historian said, the trees presented five values which included cultural, social, historical, scientific and aesthetic means.
"They were initially merely planted for beauty, but these trees have gradually become the symbol of Pretoria, and it is for this reason that they should be regarded and protected as features of cultural significance."
As matters stand, those trees that die of natural causes are replaced and those that have to make way for development are replanted elsewhere in the city.