DEVELOPMENT is necessary, but forest cover is equally as important declared minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation Senator Matthew Samuda last Saturday, as the Forestry Department joined forces with the ministry to launch a major urban area tree-planting thrust.
There is a plan to plant 3,000 trees on lands along Lady Musgrave and East King’s House roads in St Andrew. Those roadways are among three corridors slated for major road expansion works in the coming months, and this activity is intended to offset the expected damage or loss of existing trees in these areas due to the roadworks.
“We are aware that in East King’s House Road, Lady Musgrave Road and Arthur Wint Drive there will be road expansion. Now there are 208 trees along those roadways. Two hundred and eight trees will not be removed. That’s not the point,” Samuda said on Saturday.
“But we do know that there will be some impact on tree cover in those areas. So to ensure that we do what we need to do, replanting 3,000 trees within a kilometre on properties both governmental and private properties in the area, ahead of the construction. We’ll be working with citizens and neighbours, et cetera, to ensure that they get the necessary support and help to ensure that these trees actually catch,” he added, noting that one of the objectives is also to ensure that there is a high survivability rate.
Samuda said the project is a subset of the National Tree Planting Initiative that was announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness in 2019, which targets three million trees representing “our three million people, as efforts for reforestation in many areas that have been degraded over time.”
“One of our major focuses is indeed urban forestry. Now, where we know there’s been a lot of development, or where we know there’s development to come with lands that are not designated for development, we are starting the process to increase tree cover in all of those spaces,” he said.
Last October, the Forestry Department partnered with several entities to plant more than 11,000 trees islandwide on National Tree Planting Day, celebrated in October.
Speaking at a National Tree Planting Day ceremony and project at the Ebony Park Agro Park in Clarendon, CEO and conservator of forests Ainsley Henry underscored a close link between the well-being of a society and the quality of its environment.
Further, Samuda said that as at November, the National Tree Planting Initiative surpassed 2.2 million trees. Samuda said he expects Holness to “fully update” the country in his budget speech, as a part of his environmental portfolio.