- The number of seedlings to be distributed has increased from 31,000 last year - a 120% increase.
- The Minister noted that apart from their aesthetic value, and their usefulness as sources of food, trees are essential for air quality.
- The National Tree Planting Day exercise was held on Friday (Oct. 4) at the Spot Valley High School in St. James.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, says that 75,000 seedlings will be distributed by the Forestry Department this year for the replenishing of forests.
This represents a 120 per cent increase over the 31,000 seedlings issued last year, and is aimed at garnering national support towards the care and sustainability of the environment.
The Minister made the announcement at the National Tree Planting Day exercise held on Friday (Oct. 4) at the Spot Valley High School in St. James.
Activities for the national observance, which saw Minister Pickersgill participating in the planting of some 12 seedlings on the school’s compound, were carried out under the theme: ‘Invest in tomorrow, plant a tree today.’ He said that the theme was “most fitting”.
“In fact, I cannot emphasize enough just how important our trees and forests are to life here on earth. Indeed, by planting trees, we plant the foundation for life for generations to come. As American Poet Lucy Larcom says, ‘He who plants a tree, plants a hope’,” Minister Pickersgill says.
He noted that apart from their aesthetic value, and their usefulness as sources of food, shelter and shade, trees were crucially essential for air quality.
“Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which we all need to survive and they clean the air by trapping dust and smoke particles. As such, they are critical to reducing the prevalence of carbon dioxide, which is one of the greenhouse gases that contributes to climate change and its attendant impacts,” he said.
He noted that trees also aid in soil conservation, which is vital to the maintenance of soil and water quality and in preventing flooding. In addition, they sustain the plant and animal life of an area.
Minister Pickergill told participants at the ceremony, which included over 500 students of the school and community members that replenishing the country’s trees and forests will also help to meet society’s demand for wood, while taking care of the land.
“In meeting human needs, we must preserve our forests so that these needs can be met, not only for present, but for future generations. To do so, we must all play our part. Persons, who utilize wood for commercial or economic activities such as furniture making, construction and the production of charcoal, must ensure that as they utilize our trees, measures are put in place to replace them. Developers must ensure that while their buildings go up, our trees that come down must be replanted,” he stated.
He commended the Forestry Department for actively engaging Jamaicans through initiatives such as the annual National Tree Planting Day, noting that the country’s citizens must see themselves as major partners and stakeholders in the process of protecting the country’s forest reserves.
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE