COLE BAY, Sint Maarten – Proposal for Trees Protection Law Sent to Decision Makers - The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has started a community-wide tree planting effort combined with a proposal submitted to decision makers and community leaders for the establishment of a specific Trees Protection Law for St. Maarten.
Over the last few months there has been much talk in the community regarding what is and what is not allowed with regards to the cutting and pruning of trees. The Nature Foundation has therefore decided that both a tree planting effort in the communities combined with a push for the establishment of a specific trees protection Law is necessary and crucial for the sustainable management of the country’s tree population. Information on current legal parameters for the cutting of trees has also been posted on the Nature Foundation website, including the Historic Tree Policy which was approved by the then Island Council in 2009.
Over the last weeks the Nature Foundation has been contacted by various property owners regarding how to address trees on their properties. The Nature Foundation removed two young Sandbox Trees from the premises of the Martin Luther King School in Dutch Quarter that posed a threat to the school’s plumbing installation and replanted them at safe locations within the district.
The tree planting effort focuses specifically on trees that provide shade, are of a national and historic importance and provide local fruit to the various districts. The first trees planted were Sandbox Trees, Starfruit and Flamboyant trees in the districts of St. Peters and Belair and in the Emilio Wilson Park.
The Foundation is also involving youth groups in the planting effort educating about the importance of tree protection and planting and replanting trees within the community. Additional trees to be planted include Tamarind and Avocado Trees in the Cole Bay district; Flamboyant Trees -St. Maarten’s National Symbol- in various districts and Soursap, Sugar Apple and Genip Trees in various public areas.
The Nature Foundation is also appealing to the community to contact the organization with regards to the best way to address issues some may have with trees on their property and possible replanting or transplanting of small trees to safer locations rather than simply cutting back the tree or chopping it down.
From a policy perspective the Nature Foundation has also drafted a proposed Trees Protection Law which it has submitted to policy and decision makers for the protection of trees for their natural and historic value for St. Maarten. A Trees Protection Law would also enhance stipulations set forth the Historic Trees Policy ratified by the then Island Council in 2009.
With the approach of engaging in an active tree planting program, an education program focusing on the importance of protecting trees and policy recommendations for the further legal protection of trees on St. Maarten the Nature Foundation hopes to have a balanced and sustainable management and development of trees for the country for in particular indigenous fruit trees, trees that provide shade and trees that are of a historical, national and cultural importance.
The Nature Foundation echoes the sentiments of the United Nations Environment Program in stating that because of the benefits that our island, our planet and ourselves get from trees, such as trees being oxygen filters, providing shelter and food for humans as well as other animals and their influence on the climate -to mention just a few-, it is essential that we make sure we make up for all the trees we loose or use. If performed properly tree planting can ensure the successful restoration of a deforested area, hence creating ecologically sustainable resource use. This coupled with National Legislation protecting existing trees is essential in encouraging a sustainable management for our trees here on St. Maarten.