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As Jamaica marches closer to a predicted state of climate departure, the Forestry Department is urging Jamaicans to take steps that will count towards a climate resilient future as the Agency leads the 16th observance of National Tree Planting Day on Friday, October 5.

Climate departure, according to Yale Environment 360 online magazine, is said to mark ‘the point at which the earth’s climate begins to cease resembling what has come before and moves into a new state, one where heat records are routinely shattered and what once was considered extreme will become the norm’.

A 2013 publication in the British scientific Journal, Nature, said that Jamaica is expected to experience climate departure by 2023 with the possibility of it changing to 2028 with carbon dioxide mitigation.

Ms. Marilyn Headley, CEO & Conservator of Forests, says that two ways we can help to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is by not burning our forests and by engaging in more tree planting activities.

“One of the many functions of trees is the absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. When we cut trees, we are reducing the number of trees that are able to absorb this greenhouse gas and when we burn our forests we add to the levels of greenhouse gases. However, when we plant trees we are increasing the capacity for the absorption of greater levels of the gas. It’s really clear what we need to do going forward and it is not the responsibility of one agency or one individual, it is everyone’s responsibility,” Ms. Headley said.

The Agency is therefore urging all Jamaicans to play their part this National Tree Planting Day by planting a tree that will count towards a sustainable future, under the theme, “Every Tree Counts: 1, 2, 3… Plant Yours Today”.

“Every year we make the call for individuals to get involved and plant trees and the call remains just as urgent today. We lose trees every year, whether as a result of forest fires, illegal cutting or a result of road and building construction.  If we are to continue reaping the benefit that these trees provide at the national level, we have to continue planting to replace those that we have lost,” she said.

The Agency began distribution of an assortment of free timber and ornamental seedlings, Monday, September 24 to give individuals the opportunity to get involved. Persons may visit the Agency’s nurseries at its Head Office, 173 Constant Spring Road; Moneague, St. Ann, adjacent to the JDF Camp; and Williamsfield, Manchester to collect seedlings for tree planting projects.

Distribution will continue until Friday, October 12, however, there will be no distribution on Friday, October 5 to facilitate tree planting activities in observance of the day.

In the meantime, the main ceremony and national project for this year’s observance will be at the Donald Quarrie High School in Kingston. Other ceremonies and projects will be held at the Grange Hill High School, Westmoreland; Moneague Primary School, St. Ann; St. Mary and  Oracabessa High Schools in St. Mary; and Fair Prospect High School, Portland. The Agency will also be partnering with other organizations to carry out tree planting projects on the lead up to National Tree Planting Day including the National Council for Senior Citizens, which will be planting trees as part of its observance of Senior Citizens Week and the St. Catherine Municipal Council which has included tree planting as part of its rehabilitation works of the Old Harbour Bathing Beach.

National Tree Planting Day, a nationwide observance led by the Forestry Department, is aimed at promoting the value of forests and trees, while providing an opportunity for everyone to contribute to increasing the island’s forest cover and beautifying the surroundings by planting trees.

For further information, persons may contact the Forestry Department at (876) 618-3205 or by visiting the Agency’s website or social media pages, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching for the handle @ForestryDeptJa.  

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