Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde and Canadian High Commissioner, Marie Legault, planting a Baobab tree at the official opening of the WIRRED at Walkers Reserve (Sand Quarry) in St. Andrew today. (A. Reid/BGIS)

Founding Director and Chairman of Walkers Institute for Regenerative Research Education and Design (WIRRED), Ian McNeel, and his team have been praised by Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, for their efforts at the Walkers Reserve (Sand Quarry) in St. Andrew.

Mr. McNeel, who today officially opened the facility housing WIRRED at Walkers Reserve, had earlier outlined to Minister Forde and a gathering that included Canadian High Commissioner to Barbados, Marie Legault, that his organisation shared Government’s commitment to tree planting.

He noted that since 2014, his team had planted over 20,000 trees and plants every single year and was ably assisting Government in reaching its 2030 goals in respect of climate change and the planting of 1,000,000 trees.

He added: “So WIRRED would like to assist and continue assisting with its ‘One Tree for Every Bajan’ programme and has committed and will ensure that all other trees that we have planted and we continue to plant will be counted towards the national goal of 1,000,000 trees.”

The Director further noted that WIRRED and Walkers Reserve were also committed to a productive and lasting relationship with the Environment Ministry.

Outlining the goals of the ‘One Tree for Every Bajan’ programme, Mr. McNeel said it aimed to engage a diverse community of stakeholders in a holistic manner, build habitat and increase bio-diversity; reduce the issue of carbon; build climate resilience; promote a culture of environmentally conscious voluntarism and create a movement of environmental stewardship in Barbados, inclusive of vulnerable groups.

Minister Forde lauded Mr. McNeel’s efforts and stated: “What you have done is to show the rest of Barbados that partnerships are an important cog of sustainable development and the green economic recovery cannot be done by Government alone. It has to be done when philanthropists like yourself and every single Barbadian understands that trees save lives.”

The Minister, who along with Canadian High Commissioner Marie Legault planted a Baobab tree, said planting was not only addressing food security, maintaining and preventing soil erosion but adding to our agroforestry and taking the heat from the environment, among others.

Meanwhile, Ms. Legault, while pointing out that in 2017 India undertook a one-day initiative of planting trees, issued a challenge to Barbados.

She said 1.5 million volunteers planted 66 million trees in one province in 12 hours. Musing on the outcome of such an initiative here, she said: “If we were to do this in Barbados; of course, we don’t have 1.2 billion people here but comparatively, it would mean 3,000 volunteers could plant 18,000 trees in one day… and that would go a long way to the one million trees that Barbados wants to plant…. So, that’s a challenge that I give you – One day, 3,000 volunteers, 18,000 trees.”

Speaking of the progress made by Canada, Ms. Legault said her country had, since 2011, put in place National Tree Day, an official national day about the importance of tree planting and the national goal was to plant two billion trees over 10 years, something started a couple of years ago.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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