Importance of tree-planting highlighted at Arbour Month launch

Daryl George, Senior Environment Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Environment.
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By Makeida Antonio

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Arbour Month was launched against the backdrop of COP26 where Caribbean leaders are on the world stage highlighting the need for climate action in Small Island Developing States.

This year’s lead coordinator of Arbour Month in Antigua and Barbuda – Senior Environment Officer in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and Environment – Daryl George says tree planting is critical in preventing further environmental destruction.

“COP26 really relates to climate change, and trees and tree planting are a very important defence against climate change. We know the importance of trees [and] forests in terms of removing carbon and serving as carbon sinks [to absorb carbon from the atmosphere], so we know that restoring our ecosystems is critical in terms of mitigating against climate change and the effects of climate change,” he told Observer yesterday.

To this end, the Department of Environment (DoE) will host a number of events geared at increasing environmental awareness among residents. George said that public participation in activities, such as tree planting on Arbour Day, is encouraged.

Arbour Day will be observed on November 25 and residents can obtain a variety of trees for a token donation.

The senior environment officer also listed a number of activities to mark the month-long observation.

“We have our art competition, our extraneous speech competition, our speech on the spot competition. We will also be travelling to Barbuda in collaboration with UNDP to engage them in a plant fair as well.

“We are engaging schools, as well, in our annual agricultural science workshops and we will be providing one of these workshops to the public so that they can follow along and learn more about trees and tree planting before finally culminating in our annual Arbour Day plant fair and climate fest on the 25th of November.”

While delivering his address at the opening ceremony, George identified human behaviour as the largest threat to the ecosystem, therefore Generation Restoration is the concept being used to navigate the destruction of the environment.

Artwork was gifted to Environment Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph who is currently attending COP26. The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Ena Henry – who was also presented with an art piece – accepted the gift on behalf of the minister.

Henry drew parallels between the Arbour Month theme ‘Ride the Climate Wave, We Are Generation Restoration’ and this year’s Independence theme, ‘Resilience, Reflection and Recovery’. The Permanent Secretary said that residents should not underestimate the significance and importance of trees.

Additionally, she reported that Covid-19 prevented the ministry’s usual community outreach activity, but the health clinics received various fruit trees despite the challenges. She also noted the ongoing recovery on the sister island of Barbuda following Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Meanwhile, a number of project coordinators reported on different community development and restoration efforts by the Department of Environment, to include those dealing with invasive species and vulnerability to floods and hurricanes.

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