Thu | Sep 23, 2021

Holness wants tree-planting drive to take root

Published:Friday | June 25, 2021 | 12:10 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) plants a tree at his alma mater, St Catherine High School, last Friday, while Pearnel Charles Jr (right), minister of housing, urban renewal, environment and climate change, and Ainsley Henry, CEO and conservator of f
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (centre) plants a tree at his alma mater, St Catherine High School, last Friday, while Pearnel Charles Jr (right), minister of housing, urban renewal, environment and climate change, and Ainsley Henry, CEO and conservator of forests at the Forestry Department, join in the tree-planting exercise.
Standing (from left): Sharon Dale, chairman, St Catherine High School Board; Ainsley Henry, CEO and conservator of forests, Forestry Department; and Prime Minister Andrew Holness looking while (stooping, from left) Principal Marlon Campbell; Dr Andrew Whea
Standing (from left): Sharon Dale, chairman, St Catherine High School Board; Ainsley Henry, CEO and conservator of forests, Forestry Department; and Prime Minister Andrew Holness looking while (stooping, from left) Principal Marlon Campbell; Dr Andrew Wheatley, member of parliament; Pearnel Charles Jr, minister of housing, urban renewal, environment and climate change; and Fayval Williams, minister of education, youth and information, plant a tree at the St Catherine High School National Tree Planting Initiative #MYTREELEGACY Tree-planting ceremony on June 18.
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Twenty-four trees weren’t nearly enough for Prime Minister Andrew Holness as he launched an environmental initiative at his alma mater, St Catherine High School, last Friday. He is eyeing more green.

“I think that we have enough space for about 240 trees. We may have to visit again,” Holness quipped as he participated in a tree-planting exercise at his old stamping ground.

Meanwhile, he endorsed the Forestry Department for its continued drive to achieve the objective of planting three million trees in three years as part of the My Tree Legacy, which was launched in April 2019.

“I am very proud to see that the effort is getting some momentum, so much so that it has reached my former school, of which I have fond memories,” Holness said.

The prime minister said that even working briefly in his garden at home conveyed to him clearly that the planting of trees was maintaining the natural environment.

Meanwhile, Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change Pearnel Charles Jr echoed the sentiments expressed by the prime minister.

CLIMATE RESILIENCE

Citing that Jamaica has about 3,370 hectares of forest cover, he said his ministry plans to introduce climate resilience within school curricula to promote sustainable development.

During an interview with The Gleaner prior to the function, Charles said that the tree-planting programme is critical to the fight against climate change and global warming.

“The planting of a tree is equivalent to the preservation of life and environment. The efforts of the Forestry Department must be commended, as we (Jamaica) have been affected by deforestation and other such practices. Therefore, I fully endorse the initiative,” Charles said.

St Catherine High principal Marlon Campbell said that the institution was committed to expanding its green space.

“It is said that a single tree can help to generate human carbon, so we need to appreciate the planting of trees, so we await the others, as the PM suggested,” Campbell said to laughter.

Meanwhile, principal director of forest operations at the Forestry Department, Jerome Smith, said that the entity takes its mandate seriously and has forged partnerships.

Smith believes that the target of three million trees is feasible, noting the commitments of organisations such as Noranda (200,000), the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (500,000), and Food For The Poor (100,000). Two citizens have also pledged 300,000 trees. The Forestry Department itself has planted more than 600,000 trees.

Pride of Barbados trees, which grow quickly, were planted at St Catherine High.

The Forestry Department has also planted trees at St Jago, Garvey Maceo, Knox high schools and other organisations.