Owing to years of neglect during the apartheid period, Soweto acquired a reputation of a dry and dusty place. Gravel roads and lack of trees caused serious environmental problems with resultant negative effects on the health of the residents and the ecosystem. However, a joint initiative by Johannesburg City Parks (JCP) and IUCN ESARO is helping to improve the well-being of the people and restore the environment. The project, which exemplifies how partnerships can work to improve social conditions of the people and protect the environment, aims to provide lessons on urban regeneration and ecosystem restoration which will be shared by other cities in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.
The Initiative spearheaded by JCP is one of the city’s showcase projects in preparation of hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Known as Greening Soweto 2010, the initiative hopes to plant 300,000 trees in the next four years and improve the social conditions through beautification, tourism and restoration of degraded ecosystyems.
Greening Soweto 2010 was showcased during a workshop in Barcelona during the World Conservation Congress demonstrating local actions towards the 2010 Biodiversity target.