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Mandate tree quota for apartments, houses

Published:Monday | September 7, 2015 | 12:13 PM


I share Don Williams' concern in the Letter of the Day ('Urban concentration spiking traffic, eroding jobs', September 7, 2015), but I also have a related concern that I hope you will permit me to share: the killing of trees out of love of quick profit, greed, laziness, and short-sightedness.

Pollution now makes the air in Beijing and New Delhi unbreathable. For days, these cities must go on lockdown to clear the air of vehicle and factory smog before it's safe for persons to emerge and breathe. The playing fields of elite prep schools are housed in large oxygen-filled plastic bubbles so the children of the rich can play. Even so, millions die daily from respiratory illnesses caused by poor air quality.

In Kingston, we're rapidly approaching this status as numerous treeless apartments rapidly appear and landscaping companies rapidly take over the management of apartments, killing trees and pruning them down to exposed branches to reduce the workload.

I lived in an apartment building where midsize trees with a thick canopy of leaves once lined the main road and the car park was lined with thick shrubs to trap and purify harmful carbon monoxide emissions.


Within one month of arriving, the management and landscaping company pruned almost every tree and shrub to quarter its original size or less, denuding the trunks of hardy oleanders and ficus trees of leaves and blooms, thus getting rid of much of the birds and bees. Worse, they felled a Jamaican wild cherry tree, a valuable plant both for its fruit and its wood.

The easiest way to commit suicide is to turn on your vehicle, plug the exhaust and sit inside - you'll die within minutes. I hear adults and children alike coughing, struggling to breathe, but very few seem to have made the connection between the increased carbon monoxide in the air and their respiratory distress.

Years ago, miners took canaries into mines with them. When the canaries died, they knew they had to come up immediately because the air was poisoned. We, too, used to have canaries, but with the felling of the poorman orchids that lined the property, the air became too poor and the canaries fled.


I am asking the landscapers to:

Plant more beneficial trees instead of killing the trees and shrubbery we have. Let the trees bloom so the honeybees can return and live. We want honey, yet we are killing their habitat.

Let the ficus and other plants/shrubs grow and shape them to cover and shade vehicles, trap emissions and purify the air. Let shade trees grow to absorb traffic noise, purify the air, keep temperatures down, store and release moisture gradually into the air to encourage rainfall in this time of prolonged drought.

Please, the buildings are already square. The ruthlessly pruned square trees with a few inverted triangle ones make for monotony. Too many angles. Let the city grow trees and bloom with colour. Give us a healthy and beautiful environment to live in. Don't destroy our trees and uproot our shrubs. We are seeing too much bare dirt.

I hope the minister of the environment, Robert Pickersgill, will outlaw the felling of trees in the city and mandate that ALL apartments and dwelling houses have a minimum number of full-grown or large trees and shrubs, and ALL parking lots must have a thick line of shrubs/trees to absorb carbon monoxide and breathe out oxygen.

Let's stop ruining God's earth and start to preserve it so He can bless us.