Honourable Robert Pickersgill, Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change has urged Jamaicans to take care of the nation’s forests because it is vital to the mitigating the effects of climate change.
Speaking at the National Tree Planting Day Ceremony at Church Teacher’s College in Mandeville on October 3, Minister Pickersgill said taking care of the environment was everyone’s business. “Whether we are from government, the private sector, NGO’s, educational institutions, community groups, whether you live in the cities or the rural areas, we are all Jamaicans and we owe it to ourselves and to our children to be stewards of the forests and the natural resources with which we are all blessed,” he said.
As the National Tree Planting day marked its 12th observance under theme, “Adapting to Climate Change… Secure our future, plant a tree today”, Minister Pickersgill said initiatives such as this help to build awareness about the importance of the forests and the island’s natural resources. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, development is good. We need to house our people, provide them with jobs and give them the necessary infrastructure to make their lives more comfortable. But development at the expense of the natural environment benefits no one. That is why I welcome initiatives such as this National Tree Planting Day event, which help to create awareness about the vital role that trees play in our lives,” he said.
National Tree Planting Day (NTPD) is a public awareness initiative that seeks to engage persons in the act of tree planting thereby contributing to an increase in the island’s forest cover. It was first observed as part of the Forestry Department’s 65th anniversary celebrations in 2003.
Marilyn Headley, CEO& Conservator of Forests at the Forestry Department who hosted the ceremony noted that this year’s observance was especially significant. “This year’s observance of National Tree Planting Day comes at a critical time as it follows a longer than usual dry season and a spate of forest fires which have destroyed several hectares of valuable forest resources. Small island states including Jamaica are especially vulnerable to climate change, however healthy trees and good forest cover help to reduce its impacts,” she said.
She therefore encouraged all Jamaicans to utilize the present rainy season as an opportunity to replant some of the trees that were lost during the dry season.