Development must be balanced with environmental protection - Vaz
Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, has said that economic development must be balanced with environmental protection.
"We are not saying economic activity is bad. In fact, it provides jobs for Jamaicans, which we want. But economic activity must be balanced by protecting our environment," Vaz stated in a message read by chief technical director in the ministry, Doreen Prendergast, at the National Tree Planting Day ceremony, held at Donald Quarrie High School, in St Andrew last week.
The Forestry Department observed National Tree Planting Day under the theme 'Every Tree Count: 1, 2, 3 ... Plant Yours Today'.
The initiative is aimed at promoting the value of trees and by extension, forests, while providing an opportunity for everyone to contribute to increasing the island's tree cover while beautifying the surroundings.
This year, the agency partnered with Donald Quarrie High School by planting 19 seedlings, as part of efforts to provide more shade and beautify sections of the school's compound.
Undo the Damage
Vaz also called on Jamaicans to work together to undo the negative impacts on our forest resources over the years, as a result of economic activities such as mining, slash-and-burn agriculture and unlicensed logging.
He pointed out that trees provide numerous products, from food to furniture, paper to cosmetics, "and a host of products in-between".
"By including fruit trees among the trees that we plant, we will not only preserve our watersheds and improve the air quality of our towns and communities, but we will also add to our food security," Vaz added.
For Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Department and Conservator of Forests, Marilyn Headley, trees and, by extension forest are important tools in the fight to stave off the effects of climate change.
She noted that the Forestry Department seeks to reforest at least 100 hectares of denuded and degraded hillsides annually.
"National Tree Planting Day is the perfect opportunity for every citizen to contribute to securing a healthy and safe natural environment for the benefit of present and future generations," she said.
Miss Headley added that the Forestry Department's distribution of ornamental and timber seedlings, will continue until Friday, October 12.
"I encourage you to use the opportunity to visit our nurseries, collect your seedlings and plant them," she stated.
Other participants in the National Tree Planting Day included the wife of the prime minister, and Member of Parliament for East Rural St. Andrew, Juliet Holness; Custos of St Andrew, Hon. Dr Patricia Dunnwell; and acting principal of Donald Quarrie High School, Maxine Lawrence.