Friday, January 23, 2009

One Million Trees

Today I joined the Bahamas Million Tree Campaign. This campaign seeks to plant one million new trees across the Bahamas by October, 2009. This local effort is part of the major worldwide tree planting campaign of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “Plant for the Planet: Billion Tree Campaign”, with the objective of planting at least one billion trees worldwide each year. In a call to further individual and collective action, UNEP has set a new goal of planting seven billion new trees worldwide by the end of 2009.

It all started in 1993 when the Bahamas became party to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, adopted in 1992 as part of the Rio Summit to promote sustainable development globally. The biodiversity sub-committee, the BEST Commission, was formed in an effort to enable the Bahamas to meet its commitment to the UN Convention. It aims to organize the country to meet with the CBD’s target of reducing the current rate of biodiversity loss significantly by 2010. In other words, they're working to get the public to understand that we must stop cutting down all our trees. Stop cutting them down, begin planting them up again, because our very lives depend on them.

One million new trees planted in the Bahamas by October. Its an ambitious goal, and the most worthwhile always are. This is a cause I am excited to support. I signed up at their website and pledged to plant thirteen new trees in the yard this year, Gumemale mostly.

The committee is urging us to be careful to plant indigenous trees and not any of the invasive, alien species which contribute to high rates of biodiversity loss. Do plant Horseflesh, Black Ebony, Candlewood, Yellow Elder, Bay cedar; do not plant Brazillian Pepper, Casurina or Monkey Tamarind.

I’m asking friends and readers to support this green movement trying to take root in the Bahamas, by pledging your support to the Bahamas Million Tree Campaign, by planting trees in their own yards and by donating them to schools, parks and playgrounds. You all know why. You know that trees moderate our climate, improve air qualitynand harbor wildlife. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They shade our homes reducing energy demands for cooling. They conserve water and reduce soil erosion. And, they provide food. Our human lives are unsustainable without them.

But we love and need trees for other good reasons too. Womanish poets, writers and other Creatives especially need to live among the trees. There is a strong, mystical connection between us and trees. We can hear the heart beating inside each one, we can see the spirits of the Ancestors among the green branches, we are restored, renewed and re-invigorated in the forest as much as we are when we fall into the warm, green sea. We islanders, the New Lucayans, we are responsible to now take action to protect and regrow our sacred forests, one tree at a time. I really believe that so much despair in our struggling communities right now is directly because of the wanton destruction of our trees. I really believe too that if we organize and work together in the Million Tree Campaign and other green projets we can cast one serious widdershins spell and begin to restore our islands again, and restore ourselves in the doing.

Its a good year to be like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Mathai, to understand the connection between the forest and our own good lives, a good year to plant trees.

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