Fifteen hundred trees in six countries. That was the goal that Sandals Foundation and its partners met on Earth Day, last Friday, Jamaica’s Observer reports.
Seedlings were planted in Antigua, the Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), and in Jamaica, where 900 trees were planted across Bogue in St Ann; Bog in Westmoreland and Burnt Ground in Hanover.
Environmental officer for the foundation Jonathan Hernould said the dedication of the volunteers was nothing short of inspiring.
“It was truly amazing to see the activities coming to fruition throughout the day,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Volunteer Andre Cleghorn was himself inspired by the day’s activities.
“We had an amazing time. Just to know that each tree we planted was actually making a global impact made it all worthwhile. I’m already looking forward to next year.”
The Jamaica leg of the project was done in partnership with the Forestry Department and hundreds of Sandals Foundation volunteers. In the TCI, the foundation’s partner was Turks and Caicos National Trust, with which it planted close to 50 trees at Cheshire Hall Historical Ruins in Providenciales. In Barbados, Sandals worked with Trees That Feed to plant fruit-bearing trees in 20 local schools.
“Our partnerships also extended to several forestry departments in other islands,” said Hernould. “It was a coordinated effort to create a focused impact on our carbon emissions as a region”.
CEO & Conservator of Forests at the Forestry Department in Jamaica, Marilyn Headley, spoke about the partnership between the organisations.
“The Forestry Department and the Sandals Foundation have worked together over the last few years on the establishment of tree cover in several locations. The agency lauds the Foundation for its commitment to the care and protection of our environment and our forest resources. This is the kind of relationship we hope to foster with other non-governmental organisations as well as the private sector to help us build greater awareness of the value and importance of our forests and the need to preserve them,” she said.
According to the International Development Bank, four to five million hectares of forest is cleared every year in Latin America and the Caribbean, figures which directly contribute to carbon emissions and global warming.
“We have to make a change. The current path of deforestation and habitat destruction in the Caribbean is not a sustainable one. Instead, it is one that will lead to regional and global catastrophe sooner rather than later,” the Foundation said.
In addition to planting, Sandals Foundation, which has planted over 12,000 trees across the region since its founding in 2009, said it taught local communities the importance of maintaining their tree population.
The Earth Day 2016 theme was ‘Trees For The Earth’.