Get the Fact

There are few things as relaxing as lounging beneath the cool shade of a tree and listening to the rustle of its leaves in a gentle breeze at the beach or even in your own yard. No one can deny the value of trees –from the air we breathe to the food we eat – for thousands of years, trees have provided sustenance to our environment.

Dubbed the ‘land of wood and water’, and home to over 300 endemic species of trees, Jamaica is now only 30% (336,000 hectares) forested lands. The rate of deforestation is about 350 hectares per year.

 

GOJ Intervention

Considering this, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ), through the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), has reforested 1,296 hectares since 2006. They have focused on the Yallahs and Hope Bay Watershed Management Units with programmes such as the Yallahs-Hope Project (2015-2020). Under this thrust, 565 hectares were cultivated with help from the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Forest Conservation Fund (FCF) and the Jamaica Conservation and Development Trust (JCDT).

Recently, GOJ has doubled down on its efforts to fight climate change with programmes such as the National Tree Planting Initiative. In 2019, Prime Minister the Most Honourable Andrew Holness launched the target of three million trees (a tree for every Jamaican) in three years and, so far, over 656,600 have been distributed and planted.

 

Supporting the Initiative

Spearheading the tree planting programme is the Forestry Department. This is the arm of Government responsible for managing, maintaining and sustaining over 109,000 hectares of our trees and forests on crown lands. Roughly 48.56 hectares are reforested annually through initiatives of the Department.

The National Tree Planting Initiative is also supported by National Tree Planting Day. This was launched in 2003 and aims to get people involved in planting trees to reduce the effects of climate change. It is celebrated on the first Friday in October each year.

In addition to planting trees, another aim of the initiative is to raise awareness and change people’s attitudes and approach to caring for our environment.

 

Get Involved!

First, you need to choose the right tree for your location. Do your research and consider the growing conditions that are typical in the desired location:

  • Do you live near to the mountains or close to the sea?
  • Does it rain a lot? Is your area drought-prone, and if it is, will you be able to give it enough water?
  • What kind of soil do you have?
  • Will the space you have designated be enough for fully grown roots and branches?

Interested persons may collect free seedlings at any of the Forestry Department’s nurseries. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is also committed to tree planting, and the focus is mainly on growing fruit trees. Seedlings are available at the RADA Parish Offices at a cost.

 

How do Trees Help the Environment?

Besides their beauty and majesty, trees have very important functions, especially with climate change, these include:

  • Purifying the air
  • Preventing soil erosion
  • Improving water quality
  • Reducing evaporation
  • Moderating temperature by absorbing heat and harmful ultraviolet rays

 

 Interesting Facts:

  • Trees are almost immortal: Interestingly, scientists believe that trees are some of the oldest living organisms on the planet and many – diseases or disasters aside – can live for thousands of years. The oldest on record is almost 5,000 years old.
  • Trees talk: And they have quite a bit to say. Trunks tell dendrochronologists (scientists who study the rings of a tree) the age and the climate changes, as well as any disasters the tree might have experienced such as drought or volcanic activity. They warn neighbouring trees about impending danger, for example, some species release airborne chemicals to alert others. They also have systems that share nutrients with other trees.
  • They are mood enhancers: The next time your mood plummets, go for a walk in a wooded area. Besides the endorphins you produce, trees cheer you along with their own phytoncides. When inhaled, this chemical can:
    • Reduce blood pressure
    • Lower anxiety
    • Increase pain tolerance
    • Boost cancer-fighting proteins

Mitigating climate change is everybody’s business. Lessen your carbon footprint by planting a tree today.

 

For further information, contact:

The Forestry Department

173 Constant Spring Road

Kingston 8

Telephone: 876-618-3205

Email: fdinfo@forestry.gov.jm

Website: https://forestry.gov.jm/

 

Rural Agricultural Development Authority

Hope Gardens

Kingston 6
Telephone: 876-977-1158-62

Email: executive@rada.gov.jm

Website: https://rada.gov.jm/

 

 

 

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