Members of the community, environmental activists and a mine in the area want to work together to stop the cutting down of trees in the area.
According to Ms Nicci Simpson, a Fochvlle resident who spearheaded the action, she has for some time been concerned that the large scale cutting down of certain types of trees is having a detrimental effect on the environment.
The government has however undertaken an action to clear the country of certain invasive tree species such as blue gum and black wattle to save water.
“Some of the trees may be a problem in other areas but here we are reliant upon them. They such up pollution from mining activities in the ground and also protect against extreme mining dust falloutâ€, Simpson indicated during a meeting at Libanon last week Friday. She added that after some of the trees were cut down in the Kalbasfontein rural area between Fochville and Vereeniging, residents have been exposed to much more mining dust and even dust from farm roads that become airborne as trucks drive over it.
“It might make sense to cut down trees in some suburban area, but here between the mines we need them.” Simpson told.
The well-known environmentalist and CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE), Ms Mariette Liefferink, also indicated that the trees help with combating soil erosion and some mining companies have in the past deliberately planted trees in the areas surrounding their slimes dams to combat pollution.
Although mines are often at loggerheads with activists and the community, Sibanya Gold’s Group Water Consultant, Mr Johan Wagner, indicated that on this issue, the mines would actually support the cause. Wagener indicated that he believed that planting the right type of tree, even if they might not be indigenous to South Africa, might be very beneficial in combatting pollution.
“Some alien plants and tree are most tolerant of hostile environments. Some plants, like Tamarisk grow wherever they are planted, even on mine dumps”, says Wagner.