Counting Down to Earth Day 2016 in Jamaica (And Go Plant a Tree!)


How is our Mother Earth doing, as Earth Day appears on the horizon once more? How is Jamaica doing?

I would say our amazing planet – including our beautiful island – may be heading for the Emergency Room, before too long.  Earth Day is Friday, April 22, and there is so much to write about it is almost overwhelming.

Trees for the Earth.
Trees for the Earth.

The theme for this year’s Earth Day is Trees for the Earth. This one is dear to my heart. We do know that trees help us to combat climate change, absorbing and storing carbon – including the mangroves that are so precious and important to our vulnerable island in so many ways. Trees clean and filter the air by absorbing the pollutants we breathe in. And almost everywhere, trees provide shade, food, energy and income. I wrote an article on agroforestry a few months ago. I would add (most importantly) that trees also nurture biodiversity – wildlife of all kinds, including birds. The guango tree in our yard is filled with life, whenever you look up into its branches. Trees are their own ecosystems.

JMMB's Earth Day Trees for Earth project.
JMMB’s Earth Day Trees for Earth project.

I’m happy to see at least one corporate entity that is recognizing Earth Day. Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) is aiming to plant 5,000 trees. If you plant a tree on or before Earth Day, take a photo and upload your photo planting a tree. For every photo uploaded, using the hashtag #JMMBEarthDay, JMMB will donate J$100 to the Forestry Department.

Here are a few more things happening in Jamaica this week…

Children at the S.T.E.P. Centre enjoying the fruits of their garden. (Photo: S.T.E.P. Centre/Leslie Wan)
Children at the S.T.E.P. Centre enjoying the fruits of their garden. (Photo: S.T.E.P. Centre/Leslie Wan)

I know the S.T.E.P. Centre (School for Therapy, Education and Parenting of Children with Multiple Disabilities) in Kingston is getting excited about its Earth Day celebrations. They have been transforming their back garden (an area once filled with rubble and garbage) into a place of beauty, biodiversity and fruitfulness, planting trees and flowering bushes that attract bees, butterflies and birds. Since last year’s Earth Day the Centre has been working on its garden curriculum. It has partnered with the Natural History Museum of the Institute of Jamaica (which, by the way, does wonderful educational outreach) on a biosphere education project. Staff have been trained and teachers’ guides provided with the help of a grant from the Nene Valley Rotary Club in the UK. I am looking forward to visiting them on Friday.

Also on Earth Day, the Jamaica Environment Trust is hosting a program supported by the Tourism Enhancement Fund. Sun, Sea…and Solid Waste? is a part of the Clean Coasts Project that also embraces Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica (which is the public education component). The Tourism Ministry’s Tourism Action Clubs have been getting the word out in schools across the island, and on Friday awards will be handed out to the best Clubs for their work. There will also be an exhibition by the Clubs open for viewing at the Terra Nova Hotel from

I will never forget seeing a group of tourists in Ocho Rios walking along the street and stopping to take photographs of the garbage in a nearby gully. I simply cringed. But this is not only for tourists of course. We need to keep this island clean and livable for ourselves!

NEPA's anti-styrofoam Earth Day initiative.
NEPA’s anti-styrofoam Earth Day initiative.

The National Environment and Planning Agency has come up with a very good awareness project for the day – NO Styrofoam Day! Styrofoam is becoming almost as much a curse as plastic bottles on this island. The containers are used for takeaway food (“box lunches” and the like) and there are some at the bottom of my road right now, thrown out by filthy taxi drivers when they’ve finished their lunch. Again, we really need corporate Jamaica to come on board and take responsibility (including our local cookshops). With the Zika Virus and other diseases stalking the land, these containers also collect water for mosquitoes to breed in. And they are not biodegradable! Long term solutions are urgently needed.

C-CAM's Third Annual Green Run!
C-CAM’s Third Annual Green Run!

Out of town, the hard-working team at the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation (C-CAM) is organizing its third annual Green Run – a fundraiser for the NGO’s fantastic work in the Portland Bight Protected Area. It will start at Jamalco’s Rocky Point Port Road in Salt River, Clarendon on Sunday, April 24 at 6:30 a.m. Families, schools, individuals, local companies, young and old – come out in your numbers and run (or walk). The walk/run will end at the Portland Bight Discovery Centre in Salt River, which I visited last year – a fantastic wetland area.

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In Montego Bay, the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust will celebrate on Wednesday April 23 by  launching its Reef Guardians Stewards of Creation Pilot Project. The Montego Bay Marine Park’s partners are the Rotaract Club. It will coordinate a Beach Cleanup and Best Green Space Competition from 9 am – 12 pm @ Old Hospital Beach. It will also launching its petition to ban Styrofoam in Jamaica. Volunteers are welcomed to join to solicit signatures in support of this cause. Booths will be set up at Fair View Shopping Center, Sam Sharpe Square and Old Hospital Beach. It will also set up 10 garbage receptacles in Montego Bay; and as sponsors of the My Mobay campaign will be assisting with the My Mobay Downtown Walk from 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with a featured interview on Mello FM during its Outside Broadcast. This project seeks to remove some of the solid waste impacting our beaches; educate people about marine litter and its effects on the coral reefs; initiate a national movement towards eliminating the continued use of Styrofoam; and encourage better management of solid waste among the residents of Montego Bay. You can find this event invitation on Facebook; do go out and support, and I hope to get the link to the petition soon.

The Forestry Department is partnering with several organizations this year for Earth Day.
The Forestry Department is partnering with several organizations this year for Earth Day – donating trees to the Old Harbour Bay Youth Coalition Club, among others.

Also in Montego Bay, Alvernia Preparatory School Environment Club will be planting trees at 7:30 am on Earth Day. The trees are donated by the Forestry Department. I believe other school environment clubs will be taking action, too.

The Negril Area Environmental Protection Trust (NEPT) is also hosting an Earth Day Festival… at The Source, Lot 224, Barracks Road on Friday, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Thanks to Ava Tomlinson, NEPA for this photo of the Negril flyer.
Thanks to Ava Tomlinson, NEPA for this photo of the Negril flyer.

I would love to see every community in Jamaica celebrate Earth Day in some way or other, even if it is just picking up the garbage. On that note – I am upset to see a liberal scattering of garbage appear, as if out of nowhere, on the corner of our uptown Kingston street. Where does it come from? I suspect drivers – especially cab drivers – passing through just throw it there. “Someone else” will pick it up. This evening I am putting on my Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica T shirt and going out there with a large garbage bag…)

So go ahead, get involved. Start a family project, or one involving the whole family!

And don’t forget to plant a tree!

Want to participate? Contact information for the above organizations is here…

  • Jamaica Money Market Brokers, Tel: (876) 998-5662. On Facebook, Twitter @JMMBGroup, Instagram @jmmbgroup. Website: http://www.jmmb.com
  • Forestry Department,Tel: (876) 924-2667/8. On Facebook, Twitter @ForestryDeptJa. Website: http://www.forestry.gov.jm
  • The S.T.E.P. Centre, Tel: (876) 946-3611. On Facebook.  Website: http://www.thestepcentre.com
  • Natural History Museum, Institute of Jamaica, Tel: (876) 922-0620-6 On Facebook (lovely page!) 
  • Jamaica Environment Trust (JET): (876) 960-3693/906-9385 On Facebook, Twitter @jamentrust Website: http://www.jamentrust.org
  • Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica/The Clean Coasts Project: ℅ JET. On Facebook, Twitter @nuhduttyupja Instagram and YouTube. Website: http://www.nuhduttyupjamaica.org
  • National Environment and Planning Agency, Tel: (876) 754-7540. On Facebook, Twitter @nepajamaica Website: http://www.nepa.gov.jm
  • Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation,Tel: (876) 986-3344 /289-8253 On Facebook, Twitter @ccamfngo Email: ccamfngo@gmail.com Website: http://www.ccam.org.jm
  • Montego Bay Marine Park Trust, Tel: (876) 322-1820  On Facebook (Montego Bay Marine Park). Contacts: Joshua Bailey, Outreach/Education Officer; Natasha Parchment, Board Member
  • Negril Environmental Protection Trust, Tel: (876) 957-3736 and on Facebook (Nept Westmoreland).

8 thoughts on “Counting Down to Earth Day 2016 in Jamaica (And Go Plant a Tree!)

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