Portulacaria Afra. iGqwanitsha. isiCococo. Spekboom. Elephant’s Foot. It goes by many names. What remains consistent about this remarkable indigenous plant, however, is its ability to provide a health boost to the environment wherever it grows.
Spekboom is an evergreen, succulent tree native to the south-eastern parts of South Africa. In the wild it can grow to anywhere between two and five metres in height and live to be 200 years old. It is both drought-tolerant and fire resistant, with a unique ability to switch to a method of night-time photosynthesis when weather conditions become too arid to function normally.
It is this special method of photosynthesis that gives the spekboom one of its most useful environmental distinctions, namely the ability to suck huge amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. A single spekboom absorbs up to 100 times as much CO2 as a pine tree, and, according to the Spekboom Foundation of South Africa, a spekboom thicket is up to ten times as effective at carbon assimilation as a similarly sized area of tropical rainforest.
And now business owners in Techno Park can benefit from the eco-friendly properties of this wonder plant by participating in the 10,000 Trees Project, a campaign to improve the carbon footprint of Techno Park by planting – you guessed it – ten thousand spekboom, or the equivalent of five kilometres of natural hedging.
The 10,000 Trees Project is an initiative of Wonder Plant, a social enterprise based in Kayamandi that has taken up the twin challenges of fighting climate change and reducing poverty by cultivating, planting and distributing spekboom trees. Participants buy lots of spekboom trees (one lot of fifty trees fits on a single pallet and costs R850), which are propagated by one of the dedicated growers in Kayamandi. Once the saplings reach ten centimetres, they are brought to the participant’s property and planted out to establish a natural, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly hedge.
Wonder Plant is an offshoot of Heart Capital, an impact investment company with a passion for empowering people by cultivating social enterprise and boosting grassroots entrepreneurship. Peter Shrimpton, the founder of Heart Capital, believes that one of the biggest challenges facing socially innovative small businesses is the problem of maintaining continuity once the initial spurt of excitement around a project has settled down. In response to this challenge, Heart Capital supports a number of integrated projects from within its Social Innovation Hub in Kayamandi, creating a space for mutual growth and prosperity.
By participating in the 10,000 Trees Project, Techno Park is linking itself to this dynamic hub for social innovation in Kayamandi, thereby building bridges between different communities and contributing to the establishment of sustainable urban spaces in the Stellenbosch area.
A number of companies in Techno Park have already decided to take up the challenge of helping the environment by planting spekboom – maybe it’s time to join the trend?
Visit the Wonder Plant website for more information.
To join this project, email you details to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Peter on 073 420 4161 or Mandy on 082 807 9165.