Grand Cayman needs more trees.
Nearly three years after Hurricane Ivan, grass and bush has grown back to pre-storm levels. Trees and mangroves, however, have not.
Trees not only help Grand Cayman aesthetically, they also provide shade which helps homes stay cooler, thus saving on electricity.
Trees are also an important source of fresh fruit in the tropics, including mango, breadfruit, coconut, lime, soursop and many others.
Trees and mangroves are also the most important line of defence against hurricane winds and storm surge. Trees help to diffuse the wind’s power and the web-like roots of mangroves help diminish the force of storm surge.
With another hurricane season almost upon us, it is time for government to consider a national tree-planting campaign.
If government, perhaps through the National Trust for the Cayman Islands, would offer leadership and guidance, there is a good chance that the community would come through with the money and labour needed to make such an effort successful.
Undoubtedly there are many people living on Grand Cayman who would like to see more trees and more mangroves along the coastline. Many of these people probably would even be willing to spend some of their own money and time to a national tree-planting effort. However, it can’t happen without guidance from government. The average resident does not know what type of trees to plant and where to plant them.
If government or the National Trust were to conduct a low-cost awareness initiative to educate people on where to buy what kind of trees and where they may be legally planted for the benefit of Grand Cayman’s overall natural health, there is a good chance that the public would respond in force.
Many countries in the world celebrate Arbor Day, a holiday that originated in the United States to encourage people to plant and care for trees. Other countries around the world have followed America’s lead with an observation of Arbor Day.
Although the United States observes Arbor Day on the last Friday of April, other countries observe it on other dates. Perhaps the Cayman Islands could choose a date at the end of the hurricane season to give young trees six months to gain good rootage before the beginning of the next hurricane season.
Trees we plant this year and next can offer beauty and protection for generations to come. The first step is to educate those who care on how they can act. It certainly is worth a try.