The need for more trees has once again become evident after recent reports that Jamaica may soon face record heat.
Trees have a cooling effect on the climate, but the Forestry Department has identified that only 30 per cent of Jamaica is forested. Since 2003, the agency has been giving out seedlings and saplings to encourage the planting of more trees.
Francine Richards, the agency's public relations and corporate communications officer, said there has been a good response from most segments of society.
"A lot of homeowners, farmers, community groups and schools have consistently collected seedlings annually to do beautification projects in their areas," she said. As part of its 75th anniversary, the agency is trying to distribute 75,000 trees. Richards said the agency was still counting and distributing to facilitate those persons who couldn't collect before National Tree Planting Day (October 4).
"However, after counting the figures from four of eight distribution locations and up to September 30, we had distributed over 15,000 seedlings," she said. Currently, the agency is focusing on the south-eastern aspect of the Blue Mountains, in the upper Yallahs River, Upper Hope River, and the Morant River Watershed Management Units (WMU).
"This financial year, we will be replanting degraded lands in the Rio Bueno WMU, approximately 200 hectares will be planted in Stephney - Johnsvale," Richards said. She felt more and more Jamaicans were becoming more cognisant of the importance of trees, and particularly forests.
"This is evident in the increased number of persons participating in forest-related activities, such as National Tree Planting Day," she said, noting also that persons have approached the agency to find out how they can get involved and be a part of the work being done.