President talks up environmental preservation- at National Tree Day

Taking the lead: President David Granger plants a tree as he encourages others to do the same PRESIDENT David Granger has underscored the importance of preservation of the environment at the Ministry of Agriculture National Tree Day at Union Village, East Berbice, Corentyne, on Friday.

The event was observed under the theme, “Time Waits For None, The Best Time To Plant A Tree Is NOW”. “National Tree Day is not a sideshow, it is central to our national policy. We want to highlight the importance of trees. The day emphasises not only the economic, but also the environmental value of trees and also the social and recreational purpose of trees,” the President said.

Trees, he said, add value to everyday life. “Trees provide a range of economic services; they provide food and shelter. They provide medicine. Farmers reap produce from trees which allow them to earn an income and provide for their families and to generate exports and provide employment.

“Agriculture, forestry, fisheries collectively account for 17.5 per cent of employment in this country and trees are central to that employment. Trees are part of this country’s natural wealth; they must be valued and not allowed to be devalued by reckless burning or by bulldozing and by chopping them down.”

A section of the gathering at the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Tree Day exercise at Union Village, East Berbice, Corentyne, on Friday As such, the President urged the preservation and planting of more tress since they also help in combatting the ever growing threat of climate change.

Trees are worthless when they are dead ash; they are valuable when they are alive and growing and this is the reason we have a National Tree Day. This is the reason we emphasise the preservation and planting of trees rather than their destruction,” he said.

The President added: “We are a country that is covered with 87 per cent forest, because our foreparents have protected, planted and preserved those trees and it is our duty as trusties of this beautiful country, to continue to plant and to continue to protect and preserve the trees so that future generations can continue to inherit more than we have inherited from our parents and grandparents.”

The President also made it clear that his government is very serious about its Green State Development Strategy. Trees are central to the plan, and in this regard, the Head of State stressed the need for stricter policies in mining and logging.

“Mining and logging can be dangerous to our environment… and must be subjected to strict rules since they may be the main causes of deforestation and land degradation, but they are subjected to regulation. There must be more land reclamation more reforestations and at the level of the government and the Ministry of Natural Resources, employ counter measures to adverse effects of the extractive industries damaging our environment,” he said.

While noting that the country has already set aside over 7,000 square kilometers, an area larger than that of Trinidad to the Queen’s Common Wealth Canopy, as a part of the protected area, the President wants to see a regional park in every region. He also pledged to transform the Botanical Gardens.

“We have to establish in every region a regional park, not just a national park, where it helps to preserve it beautiful flora and fauna… I am going to change the National Botanical Garden. The Botanical Gardens must be the home to every specimen of tree in Guyana; it must obtain, it must contain, and maintain several specimens of all of the species of trees anywhere in Guyana.  The Botanical Gardens must be a school house for children so that we can learn about the wonders of Guyana’s trees,” the President said.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder, in his remarks, said the National Tree Day is among the days he looks forwards to annually, as tree planting exercise is critical to the eco-system and helps in combatting global warming.