JIS News

In celebration of its 65th anniversary, the Forestry Department will be having national tree-planting days on October 3 and 4.
Marilyn Headley, Conservator of Forests, told JIS News that over 500 letters were sent to schools, companies, institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGO) soliciting participation in this “very important environmental activity”.
Miss Headley said there had been an overwhelming response to this activity from a wide variety of institutions, including primary and high schools and companies across the island.
Staff members of the Forestry department are working with groups, especially schools which have requested assistance in planting trees. To assist the Forestry staff, corporate entities have offered to partner with schools in this endeavour. For example, Cement Company will work with students from the eastern end of Kingston; Airports Authority will collaborate with Donald Quarrie Secondary School and Digicel will work with St. Richard’s Basic School.
“It is a timber tree planting day,” said the Conservator, “but we are also planting ornamental shade trees such as Barbados pride, poinciana, yellow and pink poui, Spanish elm and mahoe, just to name a few”.
The seedlings for timber and shade trees were grown by the Forestry Department. The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), has provided fruit tree seedlings, including ackee, tamarind, sour sop, cashew, nutmeg and otaheiti apple.
In addition to these private endeavours, there will be four public tree planting ceremonies at Devon House in Kingston; Port Antonio High School in Portland; Hayes Primary School in Clarendon, in conjunction with JAMALCO; and Askenish All-age in Hanover, in collaboration with the Dolphin Head Trust, which manages forest reserves in that parish.
Miss Headley pointed out that the tree-planting ceremonies would place focus on the fact that trees were essential to human survival.
“Trees are not necessary, trees are essential,” stressed Miss Headley. “They are essential for life, as you know Jamaica is the land of wood and water and we need trees to protect our soils; to protect our land; and the farmers need them to prevent erosion and flooding,” she said.
“Most importantly,” she added, “the trees are essential because when rain falls, they trap the water through the roots. After this, the water percolates down into the soil and is then released gradually into rivers and springs”. The seedlings have been donated free of cost to those who requested them. The Forestry Department is mandated under the Forest Act to manage, protect and preserve all Government forests. The Department also advises private forest owners on the management and protection of their forests.

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