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National Tree Day has been observed on the first Saturday in October from the time the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition administration entered office in 2015. It was later proclaimed and published in the Official Gazette as a Day of National Observance.
Former President David Granger noted the Constitution of Guyana (at Article 36) commits to the conservation and protection of the environment, and in recognition of the said article, National Tree Day was observed by the Coalition from 2015 to 2019 as a ‘constitutional’ obligation, not a political option.
Trees are essential to human existence and to the preservation of the “green state” said the former president, speaking during his Public Interest programme on Friday. He pointed out that trees provide products such as clothing, food, housing and medicine, protect the country’s biodiversity, perform ecosystem services, such as the regulation of the water cycle, pollination, temperature modulation, carbon sequestration and air purification and beautify the surroundings.
According to the former president, the importance of trees cannot be overstated. It was further pointed out that trees grow in various forms of forests which cover more than 80 per cent of the country. Our forests are the habitat of more than 800 species of birds, 179 species of reptiles, 225 species of mammals and much of the 130 species of amphibians,” the former President noted during his televised programme.
National Tree Day was therefore intended as a call for collective vigilance to correct the damage to the environment caused by the extractive industries. These industries, despite the economic benefits they provide, are associated with air pollution, biodiversity loss, freshwater contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, land degradation and resource depletion.
National Tree Day, on the contrary, promotes reforestation, reclamation of lands and the restoration of environmentally-friendly practices – measures which can reverse the adverse impacts of extractive industries, Granger noted.
Trees can thrive if central government, regional administrations, and municipal and neighbourhood councils enforce legislation; emphasise sustainable agriculture and facilitate the management of water systems; enhance forest carbon storage to combat climate change; and ensure the preservation of biodiversity.
The National Anthem celebrates the “Green Land of Guyana” Granger reminded and urged the present generation to strive to ensure future generations can inherit our precious patrimony – ‘trees.’