Over 85,000 seedlings have been distributed and 57 hectares planted in forest estates across the island under the Government of Jamaica’s ‘Three Million Trees in Three Years’ National Tree Planting Programme since its launch on October 4, 2019.
The Programme, which was launched by the Most Honourable Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, is aimed at supporting national reforestation efforts through the planting of three million trees island wide over three years as well as the engagement of environmentally focused Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) interns. Miss Rainee Oliphant, Acting CEO& Conservator of Forests at the Forestry Department describes the level of interest in the programme to date as significant. “There is still ample opportunity for each and every Jamaican to get involved in the initiative as we are targeting engagement from the individual level to medium and large-scale planting supported by entities in the public, private and non-governmental sectors”.
“Under the initiative, private and public sector entities have engaged in a positive way with the Agency to contribute in a meaningful way to this programme. GraceKennedy Limited has pledged to plant 2,000 trees, Wisynco Group Limited 12,000 and Noranda Bauxite has committed to plant 100,000 trees initially with plans to increase to 300,000. The Jamaica 4-H Clubs has also made a pledge and other companies are currently discussing what their roles will be in the initiative,” she said.
The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has also announced that it will be facilitating the planting of 500,000 trees over two years in support of the initiative. “It is a very exciting time not just for the Forestry Department, but Jamaica as a whole,” Miss Oliphant added.
Several preparatory activities have commenced to meet the demands of the initiative one of which is the production of seedlings required to meet the three million tree target.
The Agency has increased the number of staff with responsibility for seed collection and field officers are being trained to assist with this component. The seeds collected will be used to germinate seedlings for planting under the programme. The staff capacity within the Agency’s nurseries has also been increased and additional equipment is being utilized in the production process to ensure that adequate seedlings are available to support the initiative. “The Agency is also in dialogue with private nurseries with a view of working with them to assist with the production of seedlings,” Miss Oliphant added.
The initiative, which is being led by the Forestry Department, will see the planting of two million timber/forest seedlings on approximately 3000 hectares of land while the remaining one million timber and ornamental seedlings will be distributed to the public and planted in urban spaces including roadways, parks and along major thoroughfares in towns across the island.
Under the programme, approximately 1,000 HOPE interns will be trained and certified in basic core elements of forest management which includes seedling production, tree establishment & maintenance and forest law. In addition to the HOPE interns that will benefit under the project, employment opportunities will be provided for persons from communities adjacent to areas to be planted.