The MTO Group (MTO) celebrated Arbor Month this year by donating school desks and planting trees. 

Diphaswa Primary in Bushbuckridge recently received 40 desks from MTO’s Ramanas Farms and the SANParks Eco-Furniture Factory. From left to right is Lazarus Moriri (foreman for MTO’s Ramanas Farms), Lerato Isaacs (MTO stakeholder relations coordinator), Avheyani Mpfareleni (Eco-Furniture sawmill manager), and Christopher Dibakoane (Eco-Furniture sawmill driver). Credit: The MTO Group

This September, MTO joined five schools to plant trees, donated by Ezigro, that will continue to thrive for years to come. Lemon, naartjie, cara cara orange, kumquat, spekboom, sweet thorn, fever and toad trees now grace the grounds of Embonisweni Primary, Phathwa High School, Diwiti High School, Dilayi Primary, and Diphaswa Primary.

Diphaswa Primary also received 40 desks from MTO’s Ramanas Farms and the SANParks Eco-Furniture Factory, a non-profit jobs and skills creation venture that turns the wood of invader trees into furniture.

“Arbor Month is an opportunity to celebrate things that are close to MTO: nature for our forestry and eco-tourism businesses, as well as the communities that are vital to our future success,” said Lerato Isaacs, stakeholder relations coordinator at MTO. “Arbor Month is an important opportunity to build closer ties. It’s also a chance to promote values that will make future generations the custodians of South Africa’s forests.”

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s theme for this year’s Arbor Month is ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’. MTO took that message to the schools, highlighting the importance of trees, our relationship with nature, the ‘nursery-plantation-sawmill’ forestry value chain, as well as fire awareness.

Community is incredibly important to MTO’s prosperity. It has been very involved in offering training opportunities for its staff and to promote small business development among its contractors. This strategy is already paying significant dividends, ensuring local communities benefit from the country’s eco largesse. Supporting Arbor Month activities is another opportunity for MTO to grow cohesion between the land and its people.

“The businesses that will survive in this new century need to be dynamic and agile,” said Lawrence Polkinghorne, MTO CEO. “That speaks to cooperation and collaboration. With so many of our operations in a natural resource – wood – MTO wouldn’t have a good future without including the communities around it and helping them experience the benefits of our natural assets. So every time we plant a tree or deliver a school desk, that adds to the foundations of our community relationships. It’s a good business strategy and it’s how we can help build our nation.”

“Sustainability is crucial to the future of humanity. Events such as Arbor Month are opportunities to help future generations realise the worth of the natural world around them. It is their heritage and will one day support their families,” concluded Polkinghorne.