Johannesburg's trees, a vast urban forest, map the segregated history of the city. Yet they are also essential to the wellbeing of the city and should be an area of investment. In the late 1800s, the settlement that was to become SA's largest city had almost no natural shelter from sun and dust. Once gold mining was well under way, the city grew rapidly, and with that came trees. Street trees were planted from 1904 as white residents established suburbs, and today those giants still line roads. But areas for black residents built in the following decades were not regarded as permanent, and there was scant investment in green infrastructure. The consequence of that is still evident today. Although some fruit trees were planted on small residential stands in Soweto, and despite the City of Johannesburg's Soweto Greening project started in 2006, a satellite image still shows the stark difference between the leafy suburbs and, for example, Alexandra and Soweto. Green infrastructure is a...

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