Our Planet
    02 September 2019


    Vodacom celebrates Arbor Week

    From the 1st to the 7th of September, Vodacom, along with the rest of South Africa, celebrates Arbor Week. 

    We are aware of the crucial role the Amazon rainforest plays in balancing the planet’s carbon dioxide. The plants and trees in the Amazon rainforest absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air in the process of photosynthesis, so it is considered the lungs of the planet – producing 20% of the oxygen needs for the world. Here are some more interesting facts about the Amazon rainforest.

    4 facts about the Amazon

    1. According to the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization, 25% of the planet’s species are found in the Amazon rainforest, namely: 30,000 types of plants, 2,500 fish, 1,500 birds, 500 mammals, 550 reptiles and 2.5 million insects.
    2. The Amazon has more than 30% of the world’s primary forests and provides 20% of the planet’s unfrozen fresh water.
    3. The Amazon is the world’s largest river and by some accounts – since new research was carried out in 2007 – the longest, running for up to 6,900 kilometres.
    4. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the forest acts as a carbon sink, absorbing more carbon dioxide than it emits, while releasing oxygen, and stocking 90 to 140 billion tonnes of CO2, which helps in regulating climate change.

    How Vodacom supports Arbor Week

    Vodacom understands the value of planting trees, so we have planted trees in all our buildings and offices. We are aware of the importance of trees for the environment, as they absorb more than 30% of the fossil fuel carbon emissions, sulphurous dioxide and nitrous oxide that cause climate change and health issues. The absorbed carbon dioxide is used for photosynthesis and for emitting oxygen. On an annual basis, our trees absorb approximately 23 kilograms of carbon dioxide and release oxygen in exchange. The leaves also remove pollutants from the air.

    Planting trees for Arbor Week
    Planting trees is a common practice during Arbor Week.

    We are also aware that trees play an important role in the water system, as the roots absorb harmful pollutants from the soil when they take in water. Trees also help in preventing flooding and runoff, as the leaves direct the water to the soil instead of into sewage drains. In our buildings and offices, our trees are strategically planted around buildings, as the shade reduces the amount of energy needed for cooling the buildings. This reduces our energy consumption and thereby reduces our carbon emissions. At our Midrand campus, we have various tree species that each have numerous benefits. Here are some of these species and their benefits:

    Tree Species 

    Interesting fact


    Has various health benefits


    Considered a medicinal plant


    Provides quality air, water and soil

    Phoenix reclinate palm 

    Has antioxidant, antihyperlipidemic and hepatoprotective agents


    Can be used in the treatment of diseases

    Celtis varieties

    A tolerant species that can grow in a range of environmental and soil conditions 


    Has anti-diabetic agents

    Mix of indigenous and exotic

    Other various benefits

    Sersia Assists in the fermenting of beer

    The history of Arbor Week

    Arbor Week is celebrated every year to raise awareness of the importance of trees. The value of trees is often underestimated and the truth is we simply cannot live without them. Arbor Day originated in the US in 1872 in a treeless Nebraska. A newcomer, noticing the treeless plains of Nebraska, convinced the local agricultural board to set aside a day for planting trees. The newcomer encouraged communities to participate in the planting of the trees and also shared his knowledge and awareness on the importance and value of planting trees. Years later, this idea extended globally and become recognised and celebrated as Arbor Day. 

    Arbor Day started in Nebraska in the US
    Arbor Week started when someone noticed the lack of trees in Nebraska.

    Arbor Day in South Africa

    In South Africa, Arbor Day was first celebrated in 1983. It serves to highlight the importance of trees, particularly for food, medicine and building materials. In 1999 the national government extended Arbor Day to Arbour Week (the first week of September) annually. Interestingly, Southern Africa has approximately 1,700 different native trees. The largest tree in diameter in South Africa is Limpopo’s Sunland ‘Big Baobab’, which is 1,700 years old! Overall, the largest tree in South Africa is the Sagole Baobab, which stands at a height of 22 metres with a crown diameter of 38.2 metres.

    Written by Lungile Manzini, Executive Head of Sustainability