All on board for Jamaica’s tree planting initiative

Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Senator Robert Morgan, is encouraging more Jamaicans to support the National Tree-planting Programme, aimed at safeguarding the environment and strengthening climate change resilience.

Launched by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, in October 2019, the initiative is part of the Government’s strategic response to climate change targeting the planting of three million timber and ornamental trees islandwide over the next three years.

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)

“Not only is this about planting trees… it’s also creating a new consciousness within the society as to the importance of climate resilience and protecting the environment. We recognise that unless every single Jamaican understands… the urgency of building climate resilience, we’re going to lose the fight,” Senator Morgan said.

He was speaking during a meeting of the Lions Club of Kingston at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday (February 5).

Senator Morgan said consistent with the slogan ‘Plant a Tree Today for a Prosperous Tomorrow’, is the focus on getting more Jamaicans interested in environmental preservation and climate change, the latter of which he described as the “most existential threat” Jamaica faces as a small island developing state (SIDS).

“We [want to] give everyone in the public and private sector the opportunity to participate in the building of climate resilience in our society,” he added.

The Parliamentary Secretary pointed out that Jamaica is susceptible to climate variability and climate change occurrences, such as rising sea levels, unpredictable weather events, changes in weather patterns and higher temperatures.

“If every parent plants a tree for their child…you make the lives of everybody in Jamaica that much better.”

— Senator Robert Morgan

These, he underscored, can have significant impacts, including more severe hurricanes and intense droughts, and increased heavy rainfall resulting in extensive flooding.

Senator Morgan argued that these factors should matter to Jamaicans, as a significant number of them reside in several coastal areas prone to flooding.

He added that the impact of climate change is worsened by the actions of some citizens who engage in improper disposal of garbage which is deposited in gullies and drains, and archaic farming techniques such as the slash and burn method.

The Senator contended that planting one tree can go a far way in mitigating climate change impacts, and invited well-thinking Jamaicans to do their part in supporting the initiative, which will redound to the benefit of all citizens.

“If every parent plants a tree for their child, even if it’s a tree in a box on your verandah, you can see how you transform the environment and you make the lives of everybody in Jamaica that much better,” he said.

The Parliamentary Secretary said he is encouraged by the buy-in from the private sector, which has pledged to plant 700,000 trees. A total of 85,000 trees have been planted since the project commenced.

Senator Morgan also welcomed the commitment of Lions Club members who signalled their intention to plant 50,000 trees.

The tree-planting initiative, which also aims to expand forested areas, including public and private forests, is being managed by the Forestry Department.

It will entail the foresting of 3,000 hectares of land with two million timber seedlings.

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