Though failing in its bid to plant some 80,000 trees in two years, due to weather and personnel constraints, the National Conservation Commission (NCC) is continuing its tree planting drive in earnest.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 trees have been planted to date, with 1,500 of them recorded between November last year and the present.

Word of this has come from Technical Officer and Project Coordinator, Ryan Brathwaite, who is calling for an “all hands on deck” approach in the Commission’s   reforestation drive. This forms part of a joint Organisation of American States (OAS) and NCC ‘Capacity Building for Youth in Sustainable Land Management Project’ which commenced in April 2007.

“We are trying to get as many people as possible to come out and plant trees, especially along the East Coast. We are moving steadily along, we just need more hands on deck,” he explained.

Mr. Brathwaite, who is urging volunteers, especially young persons and members of church and community groups to come out and support  the reforestation project, said  the local 4H movement was “fully on board” and they were trying to get other youth organisations like the cadet corps  to join the effort.

“Many of these groups are already involved in environmental activities so this is a natural progression. The idea is to make young people more environmentally conscious and then the future will be bright,” he said.

With areas along the island’s parks and beaches as well as the East Coast being the major target areas at present, the NCC spokesman said the latter was selected because it is one of the main problem areas in need of environmental management due to chronic land slippage.

In addition to engineering techniques including the use of gabions by the Soil Conservation Unit, Mr. Brathwaite said the idea was to re-vegetate the area   to facilitate a natural stabilising effect.

“We are continuing on the efforts of Soil Conservation and working together to ensure the sustainability of the Scotland District. It is the most vulnerable area and we want to tackle it head on,” he added.

With approximately 15,000 trees having been propagated to date, Mr. Brathwaite said the Commission was on schedule to get churches, schools and young people to reproduce more, and bring them to the NCC under their guidance.

“This way they will get involved with every aspect of the reforestation project from seed collection to seedling growth and care to the actual tree planting, monitoring and record keeping,” he underlined, noting that this process of knowledge transfer would augur well for the future.

With the project’s planting and monitoring phase slated to commence this April, Mr. Brathwaite said the NCC also intended to purchase mobile water tanks for the purpose of irrigating dry areas at different sites in an effort to ensure the trees’ survival.

“Often persons go out and plant trees and no one looks back at them. Trees are like children, you need to care for them until they mature and are able to withstand tough conditions,” he said.

Mr. Brathwaite is also urging nature lovers, including persons who hike, and possess knowledge of the island’s terrain, to join in this worthwhile endeavour.

Interested persons may contact him at the NCC at telephone number 425-1200 or by email at ncc@caribsurf.com.

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