Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., says the National Tree Planting Initiative is on track with more than 730,000 seedlings planted and distributed as at the beginning of September 2021.
“The initiative is aimed at planting three million trees over a three-year period and was launched by the Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on October 4, 2019. The objective of the initiative is to support national development in the areas of climate change and reforestation efforts to increase forest cover and establish high-value urban green spaces for all Jamaicans,” Mr. Charles Jr. told JIS News.
He shared that the initiative was affected by the onset of the (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, but is being fast-tracked by the Forestry Department and partners.
“COVID-19 has significantly impacted the implementation of the programme, but thanks to the will and spirit of the Jamaican people, through individual action and our public and private sectors, we are on track to achieve and even exceed our target,” the Minister said.
He lauded the Forestry Department for its role in overseeing the project, and underscored the importance of this exercise to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“Forestry is one of the most affordable ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, because of the role trees play in the carbon cycle. Trees and other plants act as carbon sinks, storing large amounts of carbon dioxide, which helps to stabilise the climate,” the Minister explained.
Under the National Tree Planting Initiative, the Government, through the Forestry Department, will identify suitable lands for reforestation, including parks, roadways and thoroughfares within major towns.
The Department will organise the production of 1.7 million seedlings, including native species, for use in reforestation and tree planting, and through partnerships produce and plant 1.3 million seedlings. The Forestry Department will also do follow-up to ensure the maintenance of the seedlings planted.