A tree-mendous achievement for Cayman

Every year Lions District Governors identify core areas in which they would like Lions to become involved in the respective communities.

Cayman’s First District Governor Lion John Ebanks has asked that clubs within his District pay attention to our environment during his tenure ending this month.

His home Club the Lions Club of Grand Cayman took up this challenge and recently brought Tree Planting back into our schools to commemorate the May holiday.

A total of 20 trees of various varieties were planted simultaneously at 9:30am on the grounds of John A. Cumber Primary in West Bay and in George Town Red Bay Primary, First Baptist Church School and Cayman Academy with Triple C School at 11am. An additional 2 trees were provided for the Prospect Primary School which will be planted at a later date due to the school having an in-house day off.

Based on records at the Archives and research on the internet a history of Tree Planting in the World and the Cayman Islands has been put together and each school has received a copy and hopefully each student will become more aware of the significance of such an act.

The Lions Club of Grand Cayman also extended an invitation to the Beautification Committee to attend this project and Miss Heather Bodden, Chairperson thanked the Lions Club of Grand Cayman for including the Beautification Committee and stated that they are always eager to work in collaboration with other service clubs and groups and welcomed such projects which will only enhance and beautify our beautiful Islands.

Mrs. Jennifer Ahearn, Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing thanked Lions for this great initiative. She said this project was very timely when the world is talking about climate change and minimizing our ‘carbon footprints’ and she hoped the Lions continue this initiative for years to come.

Minister of Education Lion Alden McLaughlin said his Ministry was very happy to authorise such events on school property as he knows the benefits it will provide in the future. He pledged his support and that of his ministry of this project and he hopes that Lions will continue to reflect upon and instil in our youth how simple acts such as this can be of benefit to our Country as a whole.

President Lion Lee Ramoon said that on behalf of the Lions Club of Grand Cayman he wanted to thank all those who played a role in making this project a success and he commended his members for taking up the challenge and bringing back ‘Tree Planting’ within our schools.

Long history behind Tree Planting Day

The first Arbor Day – Tree Planting Day – took place way back on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska, USA.

It was the brainchild of Nebraska journalist and politician Julius Sterling Morton (1832 – 1902).

Originally from Michigan, he worked throughout his career to improve agricultural techniques in his adapted state and ultimately throughout the United States.

Morton felt that Nebraska’s landscape and economy would benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees.

He set an example himself by planting orchards, shade trees and wind breaks on his own farm and he urged his neighbours to follow suit.

In the years following the first Arbor Day, Morton’s idea spread across the United States and beyond to countries near and far.

In addition, some other countries have a variation of this such as Greening Week in Japan, The New Year’s Day of Trees in Ireland, Tree-loving Week in Korea, The Reforestation Week in Yugoslavia, and ‘The Students’ Afforestation Day’ of Iceland to name a few.

According to the July 31, 1913 Public Holiday Law, May 24 was Her Majesty Queen Victoria’s Birthday and it was ordered that this day be celebrated as ‘Victoria Day’ in her honour. This later went on to be known as ‘Commonwealth Day’

As the minutes dated May 18th 1967 by the then Administrator J.A. Cumber said, it was decided that the third Monday in May should be known as Arbor Day in addition to its present title which was Commonwealth Day.

In 1967 Arbor Day fell on Monday, May 15th and it was celebrated by planting as many trees as possible throughout the three islands and thus was referred to as ‘Tree Planting Day’.

Arbor Day was celebrated in many countries throughout the world in order to replace the countless number of trees which were cut down in order to make way for homes, factories and open farmlands.

The destruction of vast numbers of trees in the Cayman Islands is affecting rainfall in an adverse way and consequently the drier climatic conditions hastens soil erosion, which in turn increases the problems facing those who produce food.

The removal of a vast number of trees without replacement could present a serious problem in the future for us here in the Cayman Islands. Since we were almost wholly dependent on rain water for drinking purposes it is imperative that we should take precaution now, otherwise the problems may go beyond our reach.

It was at this juncture that resulted in the formation of the creation of the ‘Tree Planting Committee’. It was charged with establishing other committees throughout each district so that Arbor Day could be properly celebrated. This Committee was composed of The Director of Education, Director of Community Development and the Director of Agriculture.

It was further stated that schools, should participate wholeheartedly and principals and head teachers should ensure that the trees were planted in suitable places in and around school buildings and compounds.

Today the May Holiday is celebrated on the 3rd Monday of May is known as Discovery Day in commemoration of the discovery of the Cayman Islands by Christopher Columbus on the 10th May 1503.

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