Tuesday, November 24 – The National Parks Trust recognised two individuals and one corporate citizen for dedicated and consistent support of Arbour Day celebrations at the November 20 Arbour Day Ceremony held at the Cedar International School.

His Excellency Governor David Peary assisted Deputy Director of the National Parks Trust, Mrs. Esther Georges, with the presentation of special commemorative plaques to Mr. Roger Downing in honour of his wife, the late Dr. Jana Downing, Mrs. Delma Maduro representing Road Town Wholesale and Mr. Joseph Smith Abbott, Director of the National Parks Trust.

Mrs. Georges said these persons have consistently supported the Territory’s natural habitat conservation, Arbour Day activities and biodiversity conservation.

 “We find that over the years, there are several members of our community and even members of our staff who support us.  Some of them not only support the trust, but they also support natural habitat conservation at times without knowing that they are doing so,” Mrs. Georges said.
Hon. Dancia Penn-Sallah in her capacity as Acting Premier  and Mr. Colin O’Neal of JOMA Properties, son of the late J.R. O’Neal, assisted the Master of Ceremonies and Principal of Cedar International School, Mr. Scott Hibbard, with the distribution of prizes to the winners of the poetry competition and the ZBVI Radio Trivia Quiz.

During the ceremony, students of the Cedar International School rendered a poem, a song and a skit, which relayed the uses of trees, the origin of Arbour Day and encouraged all present to plant, nurture and celebrate trees.

Long time educator, Dr. Quincy Lettsome, in his feature address spoke of the important role trees play and highlighted ten uses of plants via an interactive dialogue with students.
“Most of the beauty of the Virgin Islands comes from the beauty of the trees.  Trees are responsible for the unique beauty of the Virgin Islands,” Dr. Lettsome stated.

Dr. Lettsome also recalled his tenure with the Department of Education where he was delighted to assist the National Parks Trust in coordinating the distribution of tree saplings to students.
“Therefore as a result of Arbour Day there are many trees found on the campuses of schools throughout the Territory’s archipelago.  This year, the Arbour Day torch is now passed to Cedar International School,” Dr. Lettsome said.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Mr. Clyde Lettsome delivered remarks on behalf of Hon. Omar W. Hodge, Minister for Natural Resources and Labour, and highlighted practical ways by which persons can add to the aesthetic beauty of the Territory.
“Arbour Day is an excellent opportunity to take stock of the trees on your property and plan for the future.  Inspect your trees. Think about how planting new trees might improve the look of your property or provide wind or heat protection. Think of climate change.  Think of the importance of trees to our survival, then most importantly, plant a tree,” Mr. Lettsome stated.

A total of four trees, a flamboyant, a pink cedar, a pink cassia and a yellow poui, were planted on the Cedar School’s ground by the oldest and youngest students.

The National Parks Trust envisions an improved quality of life for the Territory’s citizens by the preservation and management of the natural environment. Through Arbour Day, the trust promotes the replanting of trees to improve and safe-guard water resources and minimise exposed landscapes.

Arbour Day was founded in the Territory by the late J.R. O’Neal, the first chairman of the National Parks Trust. The first tree planting ceremony took place in the Territory in 1953 to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and has continued annually since 1961.