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Quantifying the Benefit of Trees

To mark a decade of planting trees with Konica Minolta South Africa (KMSA) this year, we re-visited Orange Farm near Johannesburg, where the tree planting partnership began in 2008. There, we visited established trees and tasted preserved peaches from the fruit trees planted 10 years ago.

Through this experience we were able to examine the social return on investment of trees planted. We were able to consider the fruit trees planted by KMSA through the past 10 years, and the monetary value return that communities would have felt nationally. Trees truly are gifts that return value to the community exponentially after the initial planting.

Food & Trees for Africa have calculated that, even with poor soils and growing conditions, the fruit trees donated by KMSA would have created a value of greater than a factor of 7 of the original donation — on fruit production alone. This is over and above the numerous benefits of trees which include providing ecosystem services, increasing the liveability of a suburb or reducing temperatures.

The tree plantings of KMSA, for example, would have led to the production of 100 tonnes of fruit a year and, as a result, a community saving equivalent to R6,2 million (per annum).

Research has found that there is a clear appetite for fruit in South African townships, yet, with limited access due to affordability, many South Africans resort to harvesting fruit from their own yards, their neighbours, or the wild. As a result, the average household interviewed benefitted in the range of R1000/year from these harvested fruits. This led these same papers to recommend tree planting as a food security intervention in townships which experience scarcity .

By partnering with Food & Trees for Africa, KMSA have enabled us to plug into this clearly demonstrated need and as a result address food security and nutrition where it’s needed most.

We look forward to many years of planting fruit trees, and systematically ensuring all South Africans feel the exponential benefits.