August 8, 2014

The tree planting bandwagon – let us get on board

Fri, Aug 08, 2014

Climate change may be an abstract concept to many Vincentians, but we are all very familiar with its effects, maybe without realizing it.

The unseasonal and unusual heavy rains of December 24, 2013, and before that, April 2011, which resulted in floods, landslides, loss of property and life, have been attributed to climate change and also to deforestation, which in itself is one of the major contributors to climate change around the world.{{more}}

Our trees, besides providing us with food and shelter, and being home to millions of species, protect the soil from erosion, produce oxygen, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and help to control atmospheric temperature.

For years, we have been hearing that acres of land in our hills are being cleared to facilitate both legal and illegal farming. In addition to that, farmlands are being converted at fairly high rates into residential developments to allow for the building of homes for our people.

We cannot stop development, nor do we want to, but if we do not pay more attention to how we use our land, our development efforts would always be compromised, as was witnessed recently. The floods of April 2011 and December 2013 washed away crops, livestock and vehicles and damaged or destroyed roads, bridges, business places and homes.

It is the responsibility of the government to set and enforce policies to protect our forests and in relation to the way our land should be used, but as citizens of this country, we also have a responsibility to ensure that our practices do not retard or even reverse the progress we have been making in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It is therefore encouraging to see that the Mustique Charitable Trust (MCT), in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Richmond Vale Academy is spearheading a tree replanting exercise for farmers who were affected by last year’s floods. It is said that the funds being used for this project were donated by a Mustique homeowner who specified that his donation should be used for that purpose. The foresight of that donor is commendable and other groups and individuals in our country should build on that momentum by conducting their own tree planting exercises in different areas around the country and around our homes.

The US$10,000 which is being used to fund the MCT initiative can go only so far. Let’s take up the slack in our individual homes, communities, schools and groups to help with reversing some of the damage already caused and to prevent more from happening.