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The development visions and attitudes towards urban forestry of officials responsible for greening in South African towns 2015

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Nanamhla Gwedla, Charlie M. Shackleton
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The planting and maintenance of trees in public areas of South African towns is the responsibility of local municipalities. Therefore, it is necessary to appreciate the visions and attitudes of municipal officials and decision-makers in charge of such activities for an understanding of the distribution and abundance of trees along streets and in urban green spaces. We hypothesised that the town size and relative wealth and current extent of trees in public places would influence the visions of such officials. We therefore conducted 24 semi-structuredinterviews withthe officials responsible forurbantreeplanting in24 towns inthe EasternCapeprovince, whilst also assessing the abundance of streettrees via GIS counts. Thedensity of streettrees was variable, ranging from0.5 to 9.5 trees/ha. There were significantlypositive relationships between town size, relative wealth measures and street tree density. Several of the managers did not include environmental issues or trees in vision of the future for their town, although most did. There was no relationship between the managers’ visions for the future and attitudes and current streettree density. Most of the managers experienced several constraints in trying to implement their vision, notably a lack of funds for urban forestry, limited space for tree planting in low-cost housing developments, vandalism, and lack of skilled personnel.

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