84,000 and counting: National Tree Planting initiative gathers steam

Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Robert Morgan (left), is joined by (from second left) Mayor of Kingston, Senator Councillor Delroy Williams; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Pearnel Charles; Chief Architect, Urban Development Corporation (UDC), Maxine Fisher-Casserly; Deputy General Manager, UDC, Lisa Golding; and Chief Executive Officer and Conservator of Forests, Forestry Department, Rainee Oliphant, in a tree-planting exercise at National Heroes Park in Kingston. (Photo: Adrian Walker, JIS)

Since the launch of the National Tree Planting Programme late last year, more than 84,000 trees have been planted island-wide. 

This was disclosed by Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Robert Morgan, during the Houses of Parliament update meeting and tree-planting exercise at National Heroes Park in Kingston, on January 30.

Six trees were planted at the park as part of the National Tree Planting Programme.

Under the programme, Jamaica is targeting the planting of three million timber and ornamental trees over the next three years.

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 the remaining one million timber and ornamental seedlings will be distributed to the public for planting.

“The Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) has pledged half a million trees over two years, and Noranda Bauxite has pledged 100,000 trees, so we are almost one third on the way in terms of pledges and trees,” Senator Morgan informed.

He pointed out that the initiative is part of the Government’s strategic response to climate change.

“This is a project that we are very serious about. It is a project that we are taking our time to ensure that it is done properly, to ensure that it is well funded and that we build the institutional capacity within the Government, so that even if we are not there anymore, it can continue in perpetuity for the benefit of future generations,” Senator Morgan said.

Meanwhile, he noted that more than 1,000 interns under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme will be trained and certified in basic forestry management and engaged in the planting exercise.

 “Cabinet submission has been done; it is going through the process, so we can get the funding in the next financial year,” he said.

Senator Morgan also pointed out that the capacity at the Forestry Department will be bolstered to gather and plant seedlings.

“There are two planting seasons – one around March to June and one in October, so you have to plant the seedlings at that point so that they can grow to become saplings and be transferred,” he said.

Senator Morgan implored Jamaicans to participate in the initiative by planting trees.

“There are three million Jamaicans approximately and if each Jamaican plants a tree, it would have a significant and positive impact on the environment and on our personal health and well-being,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Project Manager, Urban Development Corporation, Leighton White, said the tree planting is a significant initiative within the Houses of Parliament and Park project.

Senior Project Manager, Urban Development Corporation, Leighton White, addresses the Houses of Parliament update meeting and tree-planting exercise at National Heroes Park in Kingston, on Thursday. (Photo: Adrian Walker, JIS)

“We know that it will make this project more sustainable [and eco-friendlier] and the residents of Jamaica will benefit even more from it. During the course of this year, we will plant 100 and through the life of the project itself, we will plant upwards of 1,000 trees,” he said.

Construction of a new Parliament building forms part of the National Heroes Park Redevelopment and Government Campus Project, which is a component of a master plan to redevelop downtown Kingston.

It features an interconnected building with space to accommodate a football field and an area for outdoor movie watching.

Construction of the new Parliament building, which will be built at National Heroes Park, is expected to commence by 2021.

— JIS