The Forestry Department is hailing National Tree Planting Day 2017 a tremendous success with more than 20,000 free seedlings being distributed to Jamaicans islandwide.
The day which was observed under the theme, ‘Today’s Trees, Tomorrow’s Future’, saw a number of public and private sector entities conducting tree planting exercises across the island.
Ms. Marilyn Headley, CEO & Conservator of Forests, is commending individuals and organizations that continue to support National Tree Planting Day and have been contributing to the development and future of our country through tree planting activities.
“Tree planting is a most noble task and I commend and encourage you to continue playing your part in advancing the welfare of Jamaicans. I also want to encourage you to maintain and protect the trees you have planted this year, revisit those you planted last year and the year before and ensure they are all still alive and healthy,” she said.
In the meantime, the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPSCo) planted 1000 seedlings on two (2) hectares of land in the British Forest Estate in Clarendon. The planting which was done on National Tree Planting Day formed part of the company’s participation in the Agency’s Adopt-a-Hillside Programme.
The programme, an initiative of the Forestry Department, is aimed at increasing the participation of the private sector and non-government organisations in the restoration of the island’s forest cover.
Earlier this year, JPSCo adopted three hectares of land in Cedar Valley, St. Elizabeth which falls within the Cockpit Country Forest Reserve. Approximately 2000 Jamaica Mahogany, Spanish Elm and Fiddlewood seedlings were planted.
Ms. Winsome Callum, Director of Corporate Communications and Customer Experience at JPSCo, noted that the company is proud to be a part of a movement which seeks to protect our environment in sustainable ways, such as reforestation.
“Our commitment has been demonstrated not only by our involvement in the Forestry Department's initiatives, such as the Adopt-a-Hillside project, in which JPS volunteers planted 5 hectares of hardwood seedlings, but also tree planting projects which the Company has undertaken as part of its Clean and Green focus. We are happy to be engaging in something that is truly beneficial to our nation, as reforestation not only promotes improved slope stabilization, watershed protection and enhanced air quality, but also helps to offset and reduce our carbon foot print,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Commission (ECC) organized 20 tree planting exercises which saw infant departments and schools planting trees across the island. Karlene Degrasse-Deslandes, Executive Director at the ECC, says the Commission is dedicated to investing today for tomorrow.
“The ECC has 12 Operating Standards for Early Childhood Institutions (ECIs) that must be met for them to be certified. Standard four, Physical Environment, states that ECIs should have physical environments that meet building, health and safety requirements; allow adequate space for children and facilitate the development of children and staff. The tree planting activities will help to meet this requirement as they will add to the aesthetics of the environment and they will provide shade for children and help to keep the kids and compounds cool, hence our #KeepKidsCool which was used on that day,” she said.
Mrs. Degrasse-Deslandes further noted that the planting activities also form part of the ECC’s thrust for children to be more environmentally aware as trees provide a number of benefits.
Other entities that organized and participated in tree planting exercises include the Sandals and Beaches hotel chain, Office of the Contractor General, Petrojam, Kiwanis Club of Eastern Kingston and Port Royal, Total Jamaica Limited, Child Development Agency and Hope Zoo.
A number of primary and secondary schools as well as community and social clubs also observed the day and conducted tree planting activities.