PSHB: Towards A Charter of Responsibilties

PSHB identified tree in Rosebank

According to the South African Constitution #24 we have the right to, “have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations…”

In relation to Johannesburg, this includes protecting our urban trees and replacing those that are being lost on a daily basis. Some of our trees have fallen prey to a natural invasive pest: Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer Beetle (PSHB). The estimate is that 30% will eventually succumb to PSHB. The spread of PSHB is exacerbated by the movement of infested wood such as firewood and mulch.

According to Andrea Rosen, the primary right JUFA wants to have enacted is the right to be provided with designated dump sites for PSHB infested wood. This is the responsibility of government. However, on the ground tree fellers are taking infested wood to Turfontein Dumping Site. Is this, in effect, the unofficial designated dumping site for borer infested wood?

Now that we know this, what is it that we citizens can do to slow down the spread of the infestation? What might our responsibilities be?

The following are Five Step processes I have put together is a work in progress. I would appreciate feedback to improve it and to be more inclusive:

A: Actions to support taking individual responsibility

Step 1: Educate yourself so that you can make decisions that are as wise as possible. You may want to use the JUFA posters.

Step 2: Inspect the trees, on the property where you live, for signs of infestation. If in doubt, call a in registered arborist to confirm your findings.

Step 3: Report infested trees to

JUFA Poster Be Part of the Solution

JUFA Poster Be Part of the Solution

Step 4: Take actions to support your healthy trees.

Step 5: Share your knowledge with at least one other person in your circle of influence.


B: Actions to support taking community responsibility

Step 1: Use the JUFA posters to share your knowledge with at least one of the following: your employers or employees; your school, college or university; your social groups; your church, mosque, temple, synagogue, spiritual family; your residents association; your guides and scouts groups…

Or add to your skills by participating in a borer identification walk.

Step 2: As part of your community group choose a treed area to inspect, such as the trees at your school or at your place of work. Use a temporary mark to identity infested trees.

Step 3: Report infested trees to

Step 4: As part of your community group discern what actions you can take to support healthy trees.

Step 5: Share your knowledge with one other organisation in your community network.


C: Actions to support taking political responsibility

Step 1: Share your knowledge with your local councillor, MEC or MP or with members of a political party you support. Take them on a borer identification walk.

Solarising PSHB bark chips

Solarising PSHB bark chips

Step 2: Highlight the need to designate dump sites where the infested wood may be solarised.

Step 3: Ask them to support a motion to declare a state of emergency for the trees.

Step 4: Call for the provision of emergency certified short courses and skills training programmes for unemployed people, especially youth, in the various skills needed to halt the spread of PSHB.

Step 5: Call for the employment of young qualified arborists, horticulturalists, landscapers, engineers…who are currently unemployed, to deliver training to unemployed youth and to manage solutions to treed sites on public property.


D: Actions to support taking financial responsibility

Step 1: Inspect all your firewood and mulch for borer infestation before purchasing it.

Arborist sawing a tree branch.

Arborist at work

Step 2: Use registered arborists to safely remove all PSHB infested branches and trees;

Step 3: Report any concerns you may have with unethical business behaviour.  (To whom I don’t yet know. Any suggestions?)

Step 4: Improve the immunity of your healthy trees by fertilising, composting, mulching and watering them according to their individual needs.

Step 5: Replace all infested trees with non-PSHB host trees that are most suited to your ecological system, example wetlands. Use reputable nurseries to supply nursery materials, landscaping and horticultural design solutions.


E: Actions to support taking environmental responsibility

Step 1: Refrain from removing healthy trees on public and private property and support the legal protection of Heritage and Champion trees.

Step 2: In Johannesburg, support the design of a new tree-planting plan for the city that is biodiverse yet includes carbon sequestration trees, shrubs and groundcovers.



Step 3: In Johannesburg support the identification and protection of wetlands and grasslands and provide hard landscaping and horticultural solutions to rehabilitate and support these ecosystems.This includes using trees that are suitable for each type of ecosystem.

Step 4: Support the removal of infested trees as well as old trees that pose a danger to the public and to property due to age and instability.

Step 5: Support on-going education and training, especially in the Ethics and Principles of Permaculture, for the conservation of the existing Johannesburg Urban Forest, while expanding it outwards.


Andrea Rosen:
Mike Viviers:
Nici Richter: Sustainable Permaculture Solutions



General Education

1. Johannesburg Urban Forest Alliance:


3. Shot Hole Borer In South Africa:

Reproductive and Non-Reproductive Host Trees

How to…

1. Report infested trees using email:

2. Report infested trees using a mobile app:

3. Identify infested trees:

4. Solarise infested wood chips (California):

Service Providers


2. In Johannesburg:

Unofficial Designated Dump Sites?

1. Turffontein Dumping Site, Turffontein Road, Stafford, Johannesburg, 2137. Link address: