JIS News

Schools, service clubs, and community groups across the island are being urged to participate in National Tree Planting Day, which will be observed on Friday, October 7 under the theme, ‘People need trees’.
Marilyn Headley, Conservator of Forests in the Forestry Department, said that the observance held special importance for Jamaica, in light of the devastation caused by hurricanes and growing public awareness that trees were an invaluable natural resource that aided in protecting the environment.
She revealed that for this year’s commemoration, which is the third staging, the Forestry Department’s target was to distribute 20,000 seedlings to some 400 schools and groups island wide. This number, she said, almost doubled the 12,000 seedlings, which were handed out in 2004.
She informed JIS News, that on that occasion, “all the seedlings were utilised. The year before [in 2003] we did 7,000 but last year, the Tree Planting Day came three weeks after Hurricane Ivan.so everybody’s eyes were opened up hence the demand.”
In fact, she said the Forestry Department was quite flexible in issuing seedlings last year, given the devastation wreaked by the hurricane on the country’s forestry.
Miss Headley noted however, that the damage from Hurricanes Dennis and Emily this year, was not as significant. “In our natural forests, the damage was not as significant.it was more significant in the pine forests as opposed to the hardwood forests although we still did get a lot of trees such as mahogany and mahoe falling, so our tree damage in 2004 was significant and it was not that bad in 2005,” the Conservator of Forests explained.
Turning to the seedlings that will be distributed this year, she informed that timber and ornamental species would be given out in the rural and urban regions of the island.
“We have what we generally call the timber species that we plant such as mahogany, mahoe, cedar, and Spanish elm; we also have for the more urban areas, the ornamental shade trees like the lignum vitae, poui, Poinciana, and the poor man’s orchid, those are the main species that we have for distribution,” she told JIS News.
Miss Headley is encouraging persons interested in participating in National Tree Planting Day to begin making contact with the various offices of the Forestry Department so as to avoid a “bottleneck rush”.
Persons can contact the Forestry Department in Kingston, at 173 Constant Spring Road or telephone 924-2667; in Montego Bay, at the office at Catherine Hall or call 952-0848; or at its central region office in Moneague, St. Ann by calling 973-0190.