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Western Cape Schools benefit from GPT’s carbon-cutting investments

Earlier this year, on World Rainforest Day, Global Payment Technologies (GPT) committed to bolstering efforts that aid carbon emission sequestration in South Africa. Four hundred and sixty trees were planted in Food & Trees for Africa’s (FTFA’s) afforestation project in the Eastern Cape. On 26 August, GPT’s long-term smart ESG strategy saw a further 270 trees planted at six different under-resourced schools in the Western Cape.

GPT is a supplier of various state-of-the-art money handling equipment and software solutions across South Africa. As a key player in the financial services sector (FSS), they recognise the risk a changing climate poses to the economy. Shortly after the devastating floods that upended lives and economic activity in KwaZulu-Natal in April, the company approached FTFA to assist with increasing GPT’s existing social and environmental impact investments. Together, FTFA and GPT are implementing a strategy, which includes tree planting as an erosion control measure, riparian edge protection and carbon sequestration.

Deforestation and damage to trees is a leading cause of climate change around the globe. Not only do trees provide shelter, food, medicine, fuel and a source of income, they are also a source of clean air. Trees are one of the most effective means of removing greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the atmosphere, while slowing water runoff from floods and reducing the risk of landslides.

Now, during World Water Week, and in the run up to Arbour Month, FTFA and GPT held a volunteer day at Bellville Preparatory School, and made good on GPT’s promise to continue helping communities combat the distressing impacts of climate change. Forty-five trees were planted at the school, 22 of which are fruit-bearing trees, and 23 are indigenous shade trees. 

“Offsetting carbon in public spaces that have traditionally been barren and are in need of trees is the most impactful way to green urban areas, while providing the community with valuable resources,” says Susan Evans, Event and Tree Distribution Manager at FTFA.

When planted in public spaces such as schools, trees provide additional benefits to the community. In South Africa, many schools are under-resourced. School grounds are often bare and lifeless. Research has linked urban trees to a reduction in crime, happier people, and improved academic performance. They enhance the natural aesthetic of the school. Fruit trees complement the NSNP (national school’s nutrition programme), while indigenous trees planted along a school boundary improve biodiversity and provide shade. Additionally, planting trees in schools provides an opportunity for environmental education and fosters environmental stewardship in our youth. 

“We recognise that people are the enablers of our business and a critical resource that needs to be nurtured, developed and supported. The need to ensure common cause, agency and understanding to avoid damaging the environmental and social status for future generations, has become a critically important imperative. As a company, it is therefore essential that we contribute toward mitigating the impacts that climate change has in our communities,” says Lise Reed, GPT’s Transformation & Human Resources Manager.

Throughout the rest of the year, GPT and FTFA’s partnership will result in a total of 1540 trees planted across the country. These trees will sequester approximately 568.3 tonnes of carbon, while preserving the environment and uplifting local communities.