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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ON TREES BEING FELLED -comments to Mike Garden

Thank you for continuing to send out your readers' responses regarding the removal of Cypress trees both damaged and undamaged. The various viewpoints make interesting reading and there seems to be overwhelming agreement that they should be removed. I am also keen to see indigenous trees planted more widely along roads, in public spaces and on private properties for most of the reasons already given, however, as with exotics, this must be approached with caution. I say this because it appears that some readers lump all indigenous trees together without regard to their suitability. For example, although many indigenous species are drought tolerant amongst other attributes, some popular species are naturally found in areas of the country which receive higher rainfall than Harare and which may also receive rainfall at times during the dry season. Planting such species in Harare may not be a problem if you can water them sufficiently through the dry season but, for many, this means accessing the city's underground water reserves. With what we are learning about the critical state of these reserves planting such species should be avoided to help save water for basic needs for all. However, there are alternatives if you absolutely have to have such species such as recycling grey water to use in the garden.

Regarding Jacarandas, whilst they are exotics I do not know what their water demands are. They obviously thrive in many parts of the country, even very dry places, and are certainly invasive under certain conditions. Since they are invasive I would certainly not recommend their propagation and planting except in the case of our famous Jacaranda avenues. Harare is famous for these avenues, the vast majority of which do not receive any irrigation unless someone is watering their verge, God forbid! I believe these avenues should be maintained and protected, and any trees needing to be replaced or gaps to be filled should be with Jacarandas to maintain the appearance.

Speaking of invasive exotics may I also add that far more of a problem than Jacarandas and being extremely invasive are the exotic Bauhinias (not to be confused with the indigenous ones) found in many locations along our streets and in gardens. Beautiful they may be in flower but look at how they are spreading! In much the same league are some species of Lantana, Wattle, Water Hyacinth, Pines, Eucalyptus, Cedrella (Toona cillata) and so on, and look at the problems they are causing.

Since I am adding my comments to the Cypress debate along with my views on Jacarandas and invasive exotics in my last email I might as well carry on! Just this morning I was reminded about the few mature Flamboyants growing at intervals along Sam Nujoma on the Royal Harare Golf Course side between Downie Avenue and Josiah Tongogara, which appear to have had a large peg knocked into the trunk below the main fork then painted white in this location. They also appear to be either weeping a dark sap down their trunks from these pegs or have been treated with something. The pegs and paint on each tree look too uniform to be vandalism of some sort. Might any of your readers or those in council and responsible for these trees be able to comment on this?

Thank you. Regards Fergus

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