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Minister of Housing, Urban Renewal, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., is calling on the country’s youth to actively participate in the national initiative to plant three million trees over three years and to influence others to also get involved.
“Young people, it is for you to be the agitators, the coordinators and the instigators of tree planting in your space and teach [others] and lead them in understanding the importance of the initiative,” he said.
“Not only is it a matter of beautification but it is also a matter of our own existence. Our lives depend on the capacity of trees to provide us with oxygen,” he noted.
Minister Green was addressing the Youth Month tree-planting exercise at the Boulevard Baptist Church in Kingston on Wednesday (November 25) under the theme ‘Rethink Youth’.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, launched the national tree-planting programme in October 2019.
The initiative, which is being managed by the Forestry Department, will see the foresting of 3,000 hectares of land with two million timber seedlings, while one million timber and ornamental seedlings will be distributed to the public for planting.
Minister Green said that children as young as three years old should also be taught about the importance of tree planting.
“If we get into their brains from now, we will be able to have a future generation of leaders who have, inherent in their contemplation and thinking, the importance, awareness and understanding of why we are talking about three planting,” he pointed out.
Along with the youth, the Minister said it is equally important for government agencies, ministries and departments to lead by example in the tree-planting initiative.
Chief Executive Officer and Conservator at the Forestry Department, Ainsley Henry, in his remarks said that the onus is on every citizens, including the youth, to play their part in increasing the tree coverage in communities and cities.
“I want to encourage our young people to see themselves as part of this bright and healthy future we want for Jamaica. Rethink your role in tree planting; it is not something that only our older Jamaicans should be doing. It is an activity that you should get involved in to make your communities better by having a healthier environment,” he noted.
Youth leader and President of the Jamaica Millennium Vision for Youth, Chad Rattray, pledged his support in marshalling youth to become environmental agents of change.
He noted that through his organisation, which is focused on engaging youth in national development, more than 160 trees were planted in October in schools, community centres and other spaces.
Director of Agriculture and Fisheries at Food For the Poor, Nakle Hado, further encouraged young people to “roll up their sleeves” and volunteer in their communities to educate others and to provide support for environmental and other causes as much as possible.
Food For the Poor is supporting the national tree-planting programme under its Fruits for the Poor initiative launched in February.
For his part, Deputy Head of Mission, European Union, Fredrick Ekfeldt, commended Jamaica for its work in preserving and safeguarding the trees and forests, and learning about the importance of forests in sustaining the development of the country
The Youth Month exercise also included the planting of trees at the Homestead Place of Safety and the Wortley Home for Girls in St. Andrew.