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A play for the environment at Brimmer Vale

Published:Thursday | April 28, 2016 | 12:00 AMOrantes Moore

Protecting the environment and replenishing Jamaica's dwindling tree population are of utmost importance to the Forestry Department's client services forester for the northeast, Jerome Crichton.

Last week, Crichton and his team travelled to Brimmer Vale High School in Port Maria, St Mary, where they joined forces with representatives from the Jamaica Public Service to help students plant 55 trees in celebration of Earth Day.

According to Crichton, the collaboration was part of the Forestry Department's Urban Forestry Programme, which aims to educate children and young adults on the benefits of protecting the environment.

He told Rural Xpress: "What we're trying to do is enhance and develop a partnership that already exists across Jamaica Urban Forestry where the Forestry Department tries to establish green areas within our schools.

"One of the main purposes is to sensitise students about the importance of trees in the environment, and the benefits they provide such as absorbing carbon dioxide and monoxide, which are harmful, and converting them into oxygen.

"Having a lot of trees on your compound aids with evapotranspiration, and that gives you more rainfall, which is good for crops and plants. Trees trap dust particles, which are harmful for people with sinus problems, and they enhance your health, and provide us with fruits, foods, and medicines.

"Through Urban Forestry, we provide students with theoretical data and practical activities to teach them about what we do, the benefits of protecting forests and the environment, the threats and negatives if they are not protected, and how those negatives affect us and future generations."

Crichton believes it is essential that we try to maintain the balance of our climate and weather patterns, and insists that targeting young people is the best way to ensure the children of tomorrow will be more environmentally-friendly than their parents.

He explained: "Over the years, we have seen a lack of knowledge, which leads to continuous ill-treatment of the environment, a lot of fires on private and government lands, and the loss of valuable products worth billions of dollars.

"So we promote sustainable agroforestry and agriculture practises to reduce the ill-treatment, harm, and unsustainable use of the environment because we want people to have a value, appreciation, and understanding of the environment.

"We talk about climate change and global warming and now, we're realising that we are not seeing rainfall when we expect it. So when farmers plant, they do not get the yields because the rain does not come and irrigation cannot solve the problem on a commercial basis everywhere."

Crichton added: "We're communicating these messages to students so that when they go back into their communities, they will spread the world and encourage their parents, aunts, and uncles to stop doing things that harm the environment."