The original idea for the Tree Society came from a Mr JB Richards in 1949 who, together with five other enthusiastic and committed residents keen to learn more about indigenous trees, drafted the constitution and obtained support from the Mayor. The first meeting was held in February 1950 with the Mayor at Town House, where more than 100 people enrolled as members. An older member remembers early meetings in hats and gloves with the Mayor and Mayoress in Greenwood Park!
In 1959 an arboretum was developed at Lake McIlwaine (now Lake Chivero) and opened in September 1960. The idea was to plant colourful trees so that boats coming across the lake would see a swathe of colour. In those days there was nothing there and one member once remarked that there wasn’t even a bush to go behind. Although the arboretum has been neglected over the years, the indigenous trees have regenerated and, because it is within a National Park, have largely been protected from fire and firewood collection.
As well as work on the arboretum, members made concerted efforts to eliminate weed invasions such as Mauritius Thorn (Caesalpinia decapetala), Cedrela (Toonaciliata) and Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia) from the Binga Swamp Forest near Arcturus. Work was also done at the Epworth Balancing Rocks and in support of the Mukuvisi Woodlands.
By the 1970s a pattern of monthly outings was in place, sometimes alternating with lectures and films, and the monthly newsletter gradually became more botanical.
On 20 April 1980 the Society became the Tree Society of Zimbabwe and the first edition of the new newsletter called Tree Life was issued. The 1980s and 1990s saw increased activity, with regular outings and a much expanded newsletter. Tree mapping and recording the locality of all the tree species in the country also started during that period and is continued today.
There are usually two monthly outings, held on the 3rd Sunday and 4th Saturday of every month and periodically a late afternoon walk in the Botanic Garden on the first Tuesday of the month (first Saturday morning during winter).
The Sunday trip is a day-long visit, usually to a venue just outside Harare where we picnic at lunchtime, while on the Saturday outing we visit interesting gardens in Harare. Members meet at a designated point before the Sunday outings so that they can share vehicles. Occasionally a longer outing over a long weekend is arranged and we have visited the Vumba, Hippo Pools, Mavhuradonha and Mozambique in recent years.
Details of the outings are sent to members by email and are included in the monthly magazine, as well as in some of the commercial magazines in Harare. The trips give everyone a wonderful opportunity to discuss various aspects of trees and the environment are looked forward to greatly. The Society also has a very active Facebook page.
Membership is open to all who have an interest in trees and want to know more about their identification and distribution. Membership is only $10 per person or family and gives new members access to all the knowledge and information that the Society holds. We are always happy to welcome new members, particularly younger members to ensure that our activities continue.
The Society is run by a voluntary management committee that includes the chairman (Mark Hyde), a secretary (Teig Howson), a treasurer (Bill Clarke), a publicity officer (Isla Grundy) and several members.
How to join the Tree Society
The preferred way to pay the subscription is by deposit direct to our CABS account number: 100-254-9477. The account name is “W.R. Clarke a/c Tree Society”. If you do make a deposit to CABS, please make sure your name is reflected as a reference, and also advise the Treasurer (firstname.lastname@example.org) by email of the date of your deposit.