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Jamaicans urged to plant one million trees by 2019

Published:Tuesday | May 23, 2017 | 12:00 AM
From left: Shantae James, Daedre McLeod, Emily Walcott and Sherud Bailey participating in National Tree Planting Day, an exercise at the Independence City Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine.

Jamaicans are being encouraged to plant trees to support the 'Trees for Life' initiative, aimed at strengthening the island's diverse flora, and improving its resilience to climate change.

Trees for Life is a campaign being undertaken as part of the Yallahs/Hope (River) Watershed Project with support from the Forestry Department, National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

Communications specialist for the project, Patrice Gilpin, said that the campaign started in October 2016 with a target set for Jamaica to plant one million trees by June 30, 2019.

"Trees provide an abundance of benefits, as they give us clean air, cleaner water, they are homes to our wildlife, they take in carbon dioxide from the environment and let out oxygen, which means we are breathing better air. So, one tree can mean so much, and you would be planting today to benefit generations to come," Gilpin said.

The whole idea, she added, is that with more trees planted, the more the green coverage of the island will be improved and the more resilient the country will be to the impacts of climate change.

She informed that some 2,860 tree plants will be distributed to schools, communities and farmers in St Thomas through the Yallahs/Hope (River) Watershed Project. These trees may range from coffee, naseberry, mango, soursop, avocado and citrus, to mahogany and jacaranda.

Gilpin noted that the Forestry Department and NEPA have been instrumental in the distribution of trees to persons across the island.

... Plant a tree for your baby; watch it grow

"The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has also come on board 100 per cent, and is fully committed to planting 155,000 trees throughout the year beginning Labour Day (yesterday), in celebration of Jamaica 55," Gilpin said.

"We have seen the devastation from the rains we had recently in terms of flooding and siltation of our waterways, and what we can do to reduce that in the future is plant trees, because the roots of trees hold the soil together. So, in times of heavy downpour, there will be less soil erosion, less silt reaching our waterways and fewer water lock-offs," Gilpin said.

She encouraged corporate entities and groups to celebrate their special anniversaries and milestones by planting a tree.

"We want Jamaicans to get back to the habit of planting a tree for your baby and watch that tree grow as you watch your child grow, so that we can achieve our target come 2019," she said.