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Despite the relatively dry climate, Johannesburg has over ten million trees, and it now lays claim to being the world’s biggest man-made forest – followed by Graskop in Mpumalanga, the second biggest. Many trees were originally planted in the northern areas of the city at the end of the 19th century, to provide wood for the mining industry. The areas were developed by the Randlord, Hermann Eckstein, a German immigrant, who called these forest estates Sachsenwald.

During the First World War, this name was changed to Saxonwold – which is now the name of the suburb where the forests once grew. Early (white) residents who moved into the neighbouring areas now known as the Northern Suburbs (including Parkhurst, Parktown, Parkview, Westcliff, Saxonwold, Houghton Estate, Illovo, Hyde Park, Dunkeld, Melrose, Inanda, Sandhurst) retained many of the original trees.