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Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Honourable Dr. Horace Chang, is calling for Jamaicans to get involved in planting and protecting trees and by extension forests, noting that trees and forest cover are very important to the sustainability of economic activity generated from tourism, agriculture and other sectors.

In a speech delivered by Councillor for the Montego Bay North Division Leeroy Williams at the official National Tree Planting Day ceremony and project at the Mount Alvernia High School, Friday, October 7, Dr. Chang noted that an important relationship exists between healthy trees and forest cover and a healthy and prosperous nation. “The government wants this to be recognised not only at the national level but also at the individual level. That is the reason why numerous policies and regulations have been developed to guide the sustainable use of our trees and forest resources to ensure that we leave an environment legacy for generations to come,” he said.

Dr. Chang said the Forest Policy which seeks to protect trees and forests was recently approved by parliament as a Green paper and will soon be tabled in parliament as a White paper. He also encouraged stakeholders to play their part in supporting the achievement of the goals and objectives outlined in the National Forest Management and Conservation Plan, which is being updated by the Forestry Department.

Jamaicans were also charged to demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a healthy environment by ceasing unsustainable forest practices such as the wanton cutting of trees for the production of charcoal, use as yam sticks and construction. 

Meanwhile, he has congratulated the Forestry Department on its unwavering promotion of tree planting and has commended the various entities that partnered with the Agency to carry out tree planting exercises. “This collaboration between government and private sector bodies demonstrate how environmental management can be achieved through effective partnerships,” he said.

In the meantime, Chief Executive Officer and Conservator of Forests, Miss Marilyn Headley, is hailing the 14th staging of National Tree Planting Day a success and is hoping that the responses and level of participation in this year’s observance are an indication of the future support for tree planting.

The Agency also planted over 350 seedlings on the day at different locations in partnership with Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Andrew Holness; the Minister of Education, Youth and Information, Honourable Senator Ruel Reid as well as State Minister in the Ministry, Honourable Floyd Green; Local Government and Community Development Minister, Honourable Desmond McKenzie; Contractor General, Dirk Harrison; the Early Childhood Commission and other entities.

These seedlings were planted at Penwood High School, Dupont Primary and Infant School, Seaward Primary and Junior High School, Kingston High and Charles Chin Loy Basic School, in Kingston; Munro College, St. Elizabeth; Happy Grove High School, Portland;; and Moneague Primary School, St. Ann.

National Tree Planting Day 2016 was observed under the theme, ‘Trees Today, Trees Tomorrow, Trees for Life’.

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