|NCC officials and students planting fruit trees at Bath, St. John,??recently. (C. Pitt/BGIS)|
The National Conservation Commission’s (NCC) Revegetation Project is progressing well.
This was confirmed by Technical Officer at the NCC, Ryan Als, who said the project, which was started in 2008, focused on replacing old fallen trees, those that were blown down by hurricanes and vegetation in parks and open spaces.
In addition, he said trees were also planted in the Scotland District as a form of erosion control, for biodiversity, shade and comfort.
He explained that while the main focus of the programme initially was on beaches, it was extended to parks and the entire country.
"It has become one of our major programmes. The height of it is during September for Arbor Day, and mainly during the rainy season. For Arbor Day we distribute trees to schools, churches, community groups, as well as the sites we operate from," Mr. Als said.
This year, tree planting exercises were done at a number of churches, clubs, and community groups along with primary and secondary schools in celebration of Arbor Day which will be observed on Saturday, September 22.
In addition, tree planting exercises were conducted at Bath Beach in St. John, Barclays Park, and other parks and beaches throughout the island.
The Technical Officer explained that the aim was to plant between 10, 000 to 12, 000 trees per rainy season under the Revegetation Project, but stressed that in its present form, it was a very labour intensive exercise.
"Because we use manual labour it restricts our scope somewhat. If we have the appropriate machinery our project would probably triple the capacity we have right now," Mr. Als pointed out.
However, he noted that the project was at a stage where it needed to be expanded. "We are at capacity as it relates to the amount of work that we can do because we are relying heavily on [manual] labour.
"What we need to do is increase our efficiency by using mechanical equipment for the digging of holes and for planting. That way we can do a larger number of trees per year and a greater number of areas," he said.
Mr. Als explained that the condition of trees in Barbados also varied depending on where they were growing. He pointed out that in the initial stages of the project a number of trees were donated, but people were not maintaining them.
"We augmented our programme to do a lot of site visits to see that the trees were maintained and then put things in place to ensure the trees survive. It was a learning process," he said.
He added that another solution was to allow trees to grow to between 10 to 20 feet tall, as the trees had a better chance at survival if they were more mature.
According to the official, this, however, does not guard against another challenge which the programme faces – that of vandalism.
??"Persons may see a tree that they like and decide they don’t want to see it in the park, they want to see it at their homes, so they may relocate it, or some persons may come and break the trees off or cut the trees down because in their opinion it may be hindering a view…," Mr. Als lamented.
However, he noted that such acts were localised, and while it was a concern, it should not be classified as a major problem.