On Earth Day 2016, the Sandals Foundation partnered with several environmental organisations across the Caribbean to plant 1500 trees in recognition of this year’s theme Trees For The Earth.
The activities were undertaken in the islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Antigua, Saint Lucia, Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Jamaican leg of the project was done in partnership with the Forestry Department and hundreds of Sandals Foundation volunteers across the island.
By the end of Earth Day, the volunteers were able to plant 900 trees across Bogue in St. Ann; Bog in Westmoreland and Burnt Ground in Hanover.
According to Environmental Officer for the foundation, Jonathan Hernould, the dedication of the volunteers was nothing short of inspiring. “It was truly amazing to see the activities coming to fruition throughout the day.”
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 tree planting effort in the other Caribbean islands was just as efficient according to Hernould. “We partnered with the Turks and Caicos National Trust to plant close to 50 trees at the Cheshire Hall Historical Ruins in Providenciales. We also partnered with Trees That Feed in Barbados to plant fruit bearing trees in 20 local schools. Our partnerships also extended to several forestry departments in other islands. 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, Ms. Marilyn Headley spoke about the partnership between the organizations.“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-government organizations 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.”
According to the International Development Bank, 4 to 5 million hectares of forest are 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 Sandals Foundation Earth Day initiatives involved several educational components as well. Local communities in each region were taught the importance of not only planting but also maintaining their tree population.
Since its inception the Sandals Foundation has planted over 12,000 trees across the Caribbean region.