The Forestry Department’s annual hike, Forest Trek, will return on March 25th and at this, the 13th staging of Forest Trek, children (thirteen and above) are now able to participate in the hike.
With this expansion to include children, the popular hike is now a family affair. The hike rated as a six on the level of difficulty scale is a 10KM walk through the Bull Head Forest Reserve in Clarendon. “The expansion of the eligible age group allows more members of the family to participate in the hike while undertaking a fun challenge together,” said Mrs. Francine Black Richards, Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Marketing at the Forestry Department.
The Agency says children will need to demonstrate parental consent for their participation, to be confirmed through the completion of a waiver form by their parent or guardian to accompany the registration form, both of which can be accessed on the Agency’s website. “With a rating of only six on our level of difficulty scale, persons only need to be reasonably fit and so anyone can do it. This is a trail that families can enjoy while making wonderful memories together and learning about the forest,” Mrs. Black Richards said. All children must also be accompanied by an adult.
The Agency has also made another significant change with the implementation of the BYOWB (Bring Your Own Water Bottle) Initiative, which is geared towards reducing plastic waste at the hike site. Instead of single-use plastic bottles, hikers are encouraged to bring reusable water bottles which can be refilled at water fill stations to be mounted at the rest stops and the lunch area.
CEO and Conservator of Forests, Ainsley Henry, affirmed that the Agency’s “move away from providing water in single-use plastic bottles [at the annual hike] is in support of the Government of Jamaica’s thrust to reduce the amount of PET [polyethylene terephthalate] bottle waste generated across the country.”
Water for hydration is among the provisions offered as part of the Forestry Department’s comprehensive hiking package at the Trek. Other offerings include a guided tour, parking in Kingston with transportation to and from the hike, medical assistance, lunch and rest stops with fruits and water along the trail.
While the Agency generally manages waste generated at the Trek as part of its sustainable approach in managing the forests resources, “this initiative builds on actions previously taken by the Agency and is a proactive move to keep Jamaica’s forests clean and healthy and to conserve their beauty and ecosystem services,” Mr. Henry added.
Registration is now open online and will close on March 10 or when the quota is reached. All individual and group participants should complete a registration and waiver form to secure a spot in the hike. The team leader of each group should submit a group registration form and waiver forms signed by each team member/guardian upon payment. Electronic signatures will not be accepted.
Forest Trek which commemorates International Day of Forests (March 21) annually, aims to increase public awareness of forests across Jamaica and encourage greater appreciation for their various benefits. This year’s hike will follow a 10 km trail through the Bull Head Forest Reserve from Brandon Hill to Bull Head Mountain peak and end in Reckford, Clarendon. Participants may contribute to the National Tree Planting Initiative by planting tree seedlings within this Forest Reserve and may also have opportunities to win prizes and surprises.
Public Relations and Communication Officer
(876) 298-6625/618-3205 EXT 2096
Photo caption: A view of a section of the Bull Head Forest Reserve