KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC – Jamaica has launched a National Tree Planting programme that will aim to plan three million timber and ornamental trees over the next three years.

The programme that was recently launched by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, is being managed by the Forestry Department and will see the foresting of 3,000 hectares of land with two million timber seedlings, while the remaining one million timber and ornamental seedlings will be distributed to the public for planting.

Holness, in his address at the launch ceremony, said that the initiative is part of the Government’s strategic response to climate change.

He said that the island is already experiencing the impacts of climate variations, with more intense drought and unpredictable weather, hence the need to take urgent action.

“It is an investment in our future,” he said, adding that “our children are depending on us”.

More than 1,000 interns under the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment Programme (HOPE), will be trained and certified in basic forestry management and engaged in the planting exercise.

The skills and experience gained by the interns will be utilised in support of other environmental programmes and green initiatives.

In addition, scores of other persons who reside near communities that will be forested are expected to be employed and equipped with skills.

The Prime Minister said that the Government is looking to engage the private sector in the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to track the planting and maintenance of the seedlings.