The Three Million Trees in Three Years initiative is enjoying a high level of success, with the Forestry Department expressing confidence that the goal could be surpassed.
Forest Manager in the South West Region at the Forestry Department, Ann-Marie Bromfield, is upbeat about the response from the public and how well the programme has been doing.
“We have been getting a lot of contacts regarding persons interested in planting. I think we will achieve our target. I think we will even exceed it,” she told JIS News.
Spearheaded by the Forestry Department, the objective of the project is to have Jamaica make a voluntary contribution towards (global) climate resilience. Using the country’s population figure as a guideline, the goal is for at least one tree to be planted for every Jamaican, on both private and public lands.
The initiative began in October 2019, and since then more than 500,000 trees have been planted across Jamaica up to January 2021 when the last tally was done.
This project has garnered support from both public and private entities, and even State-run facilities are benefiting. One such entity is the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home in Manchester.
The Jamaica Information Service (JIS), which adopted the Home as its main corporate social responsibility project in 2009, has initiated a beautification programme at Mount Olivet. The project includes the planting of trees and the construction of a miniature park. The Forestry Department has undertaken to conduct the tree-planting leg of the project.
Ms. Bromfield said the Forestry Department was happy to add the Home to the list of beneficiaries.
“The JIS expressed an interest in planting some trees at the Mt. Olivet Boys’ Home under this programme. The Home was one of our partners in the past, as we had planted with them before, so we were happy to partner with them again and plant some trees,” she said.
The Forestry Department has received commitments from other public and private entities, including the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), WinCo, and Norendal Bauxite. It is also executing other projects in collaboration with companies across Jamaica.
“The Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) and Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) are working with us through our Adopt a Hillside Project. We also have our Tree Legacy Programme where people can plant trees at schools they have matriculated from, at any level from early childhood to tertiary. So, we have been getting a lot of commitments from past students to plant on school compounds,” Ms. Bromfield said.
“We are in charge of the production of the timber and ornamental seedlings, while the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is partnering with us in the production of the fruit seedlings,” she noted.
There are favourites among the timber and ornamental seedlings being requested. “The ornamentals have been requested a lot, especially the Pink and Yellow Poui, and also the lignum vitae, which is the national flower. A lot of Jamaicans are interested in planting this national symbol. For timber, the most requested are the Blue Maher, the national tree, and the Jamaican Mahogany. Persons have also been expressing an interest in fruit trees, and the agency will be ramping up its production of these to meet the demand,” Ms. Bromfield said.
She is making a special appeal to developers, as they are responsible for a lot of the deforestation across the island.
“We want our developers to be a part of this through our Urban Forestry Programme, especially our urban developers, because they have to be removing trees in their developments. Through this programme, they can replace them and enhance the aesthetics, as well as keep our cities cool,” Ms. Bromfield said.
The planting is one aspect of the process, and the Forestry Department is reminding Jamaicans that the seedlings also need to be maintained for a while before they can be self-sufficient.
She is encouraging persons who live in the south west region (Manchester, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and a section of Trelawney) to make an effort to participate.
“We want as many Jamaicans as possible to take part, and they can do this by walking into any of the nurseries under my region, whether in Williamsfield, Moneague or Mt. Airy, and they can have these seedlings. For persons who want to plant more than 10, however, we encourage them to send an email to the Forestry Department at email@example.com,” Ms. Bromfield said.
Persons from other areas in the island who are interested in the programme may contact the Forestry Department’s Head Office in Kingston at 173 Constant Spring Road or call 876-618-3205.