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Tree Planting (and Maintenance), Climate Action and Me

Tree planting is a long standing activity that has been promoted by the non-profit and public sectors. Did you also know that March 21 was established as the International Day of Forests by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and is celebrated annually?

Seedlings collected at the Forestry Department for National Tree Planting Day activities in Treasure Beach. Photo: Do Good Jamaica

In the public sector, this has been done primarily by the Forestry Department of Jamaica via National Tree Planting Day – which was first observed in 2003 – and its Private Planting Programme and other activities. Did you know that, each year, the first Friday in October is observed in Jamaica as National Tree Planting Day?

Other public sector entities promoting tree planting include the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries MICAF) and its agency, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), primarily for fruit-bearing trees.

The recent announcement of the Government of Jamaica’s ‘Three Million Trees in Three Years’ National Tree Planting Programme has sparked significant interest in tree planting activities. This resurgence of interest in tree planting is great news for many reasons. It represents an activity that can:

  • help to mitigate climate change – as long as it is done properly; discussed in the final paragraph below;
  • contribute to food security and livelihoods;
  • improve air and water quality;
  • reduce land slippage and soil erosion – we all want to protect our property and infrastructure as best we can;
  • provide ecosystem benefits. An ecosystem is a community of both the living (plants, animals, etc) and non-living (soil, etc) components which are connected and interact through the food web, nutrient cycles and energy flows;
  • provide recreational and aesthetic value (forest therapy etc); and
  • preserve our heritage. How many of us have heard about the Kindah Tree in Accompong which is of tremendous importance to the Maroons? And how many of us have a navel string tree or even know what it is?

And to think that those are just a few selected potential benefits.

Naturally, the question then becomes, what does this mean for me, personally? What do I need to consider in deciding whether or not I want to plant and maintain 1 tree or 1,000 trees? Here are a few things I’ve learned, that I tend to think about, and that may be useful to you as well:

Purpose: What sort of functionality do I want from this tree? What type (a.k.a species) of tree is of interest to me? Would I like fruit, lumber/timber, shade, aesthetics, carbon sequestration (this refers to carbon that is stored by trees), or a combination of those and other benefits? Different trees have different characteristics.

Hammock between coconut trees at Treasure Cot, Jakes Treasure Beach

Maintenance: What type of tree do I want to care for? Yes… they do require care especially until they are well established, and they may require care beyond establishment. What is establishment? Establishment is the point at which a seedling requires less care than it did initially (think of caring for a newborn baby versus a more independent toddler). Why might they require care beyond that point? If you have done the work to establish a healthy tree, you want to ensure that you can enjoy maximum benefits for as long as possible.

Care and maintenance are critical. Photo: The Nature Conservancy

Location and environment: Where do I want to plant this tree (hillside or flat land for example)? What sort of environment do I have available? Is it usually wet because there is a lot of rain, or is it drier because there is very little rain? What kind of soil is there and what will grow well in it? Is it a sunny or a shaded location? Also remember that some seedlings will grow into trees that require a lot of space so proper spacing is also important. Different trees have different needs.

Mango tree in St. Elizabeth, the bread basket where farmers are experienced with dealing with drought conditions. Photo: Gary Dean Clarke

When to plant: Planting season in Jamaica usually corresponds with the two (2) traditional rainy seasons… because this makes it easier for the seedlings to become established. Consequently, in Jamaica, planting is traditionally encouraged between April-May and September-November. It is important to note that in recent years there have been some changes to the amount, frequency and seasonality of rainfall in many parts of the island and with the continued impact of climate change we will have to continue to adjust accordingly.

Be careful with bamboo. It is an invasive species and spreads fast.

Plant to strengthen not weaken existing ecosystems. We should also remember that removing and damaging “bush” might actually mean damaging an important functioning ecosystem. The last thing we want to do is cause environmental damage by improperly conducting an activity that is actually aimed at benefiting the environment. For example, removing mangroves (remember that mangroves are trees!) also removes a natural coastal defense system and this might result in coastal erosion (including loss of our beaches in some places), damage to our coral reefs and other marine ecosystems (there’s that word again), and loss of fish and shellfish nurseries and habitat (i.e. natural homes or environment).

Other considerations: Other users and/or consumers of seedlings and trees and the places where they grow may also include our four-legged friends such as goats; some consideration should therefore be given to securing your investment accordingly. Also consider the potential impact of improper planting techniques and choices. The first and most obvious is the reduced likelihood of survival and yield. We want to ensure that the technique we use is the most appropriate technique for the scale, location and type of tree being planted. In many places, seedlings are still planted manually – this is certainly the norm in Jamaica and it has been successful.

There are many ways to be responsible stewards of our environment, and to play a part in mitigating against and adapting to climate change individually, within our communities, as a nation, and globally. This is one avenue that may be explored.

Remember… technical expertise is available.  So if you are not sure about planting and maintaining trees, we encourage you to ask. Some organisations with these technical resources that readily come to mind include the Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP), the Forestry Department, the Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA), and/or the University of the West Indies (for mangroves especially). There are also resources for organic and permaculture techniques. And… if you do not feel comfortable to plant and maintain a tree yourself, consider supporting ongoing tree planting and maintenance initiatives.

Written by Allison Rangolan, Jamaica Institute of Environmental Professionals (JIEP).  This post is to “promote effective science-based environmental management” and is part of a series to commemorate JIEP’s 20th Anniversary in 2020. Connect with them on social media: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and look out for more information and events.


For more about International Day of Forests and annual themes, see here.

The Prime Minister made the tree planting initiative announcement on September 27, 2019 as he delivered Jamaica’s Policy statement at the General Debate of the 74th session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (UNGA) in New York and officially launched the Programme on October 4, 2019. This Programme complements the role that Jamaica assumed in 2018 at the request of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “France and Jamaica will co-chair an initiative to support a political process to “ensure that governments fulfill their pledge to mobilize US$100 billion a year by 2020 for climate action.””

The National Tree Planting Programme is complemented and bolstered by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) fruit tree planting initiative which runs concurrently and was announced by the Minister of Agriculture in late 2018. The objective of this initiative is to plant 5 million fruit trees across the island.


The Importance of Coral Reefs – Value, Threats, Actions To Take

Coral reef on Pedro Bank. Photo: © Tim Calver

Coral reefs are beautiful, complex ecosystems that support countless plant and animal species and are essential for maintaining a healthy ocean. Found mainly in shallow, warm water, healthy coral may be seen in a myriad of vibrant colours, shapes, sizes and designs. Known as “rainforests of the sea,” coral reefs cover less than 1% of the ocean but are home to almost 25% of all known marine species- one of the most biodiverse marine areas on the planet, housing hundreds and even thousands of species.

Reefs supply millions of people worldwide with food, livelihoods and protection against environmental threats. The Caribbean itself is made up of over 2.5 million square kilometres of ocean and hundreds of islands, which are especially dependent on coral reefs. The fishing and tourism industries are the major driving forces behind economies across the region, and these industries cannot survive without healthy and thriving coral reefs.

A recent study led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) revealed that coral reefs in Jamaica generate $550 million annually for the country’s economy: $433 million from reef-adjacent activities, like beach visits, and $117 million from on-reef activities, like snorkeling. Over 575,000 people participate in reef-associated tourism each year, making Jamaica one of the top six most-visited countries in the Caribbean for activities linked to coral reefs. Coral reefs with the highest tourism value in Jamaica generate over $5.7 million per square kilometre per year and fall within the top 10% of the Caribbean’s tourism-valued reefs.

Coral reef on the Pedro Bank. Photo: © Tim Calver

In addition, reefs help protect vulnerable communities against the devastating impacts of climate change, including erosion, flooding and extreme weather events – like 2004’s Hurricane Ivan, 2005’s Hurricane Dennis, and Hurricane Sandy in 2012 which caused many deaths and billions of dollars in infrastructural losses.  Climate change and other threats to our marine ecosystems have pushed many coral species around the globe to the verge of extinction, and the world is witnessing a dramatic loss of coral reefs that will continue to escalate at a dangerous pace unless action is taken.

See next pages for Value of Coral Reefs, Threats to Coral Reefs and Initiatives We Can Support

Jamaican Castles

Colbeck Castle

Despite our current economic struggles, Jamaica was once a prosperous land, dotted with sprawling estates, imposing great houses and even magnificent castles. These once spectacular buildings are now ruins, but still stand proud as symbols of architectural greatness. Let’s take a ‘castle tour’ across Jamaica.

Ackendown Castle, Westmoreland – The ruins of Ackendown Castle are located on the northern side of the main road between the towns of Savanna-la-Mar and Black River. It is also across from the Sandals Whitehouse resort. According to a plaque on the inner wall, the castle was built by Archibald Campbell (1781-1833) of the Auchenbreck family from Argyll, Scotland.

The castle consists of the stone remains of an eastern and western tower connected by what is said to have been an underground passage. The castle’s masonry work is more medieval in character, which is unusual in Jamaica.

The Ackendown Castle ruins were declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on December 21, 2006.

Colbeck Castle, St Catherine – Situated in open country about two miles north of Old Harbour, Colbeck Castle is a massive stone and brick structure with walls standing to their full original height. The castle, built about 1680, is currently owned by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.

The building is rectangular in shape, consisting of four-storied, tower-like structures at each corner, rising to a height of about 40 feet. Constructed in the Palladio style of architecture, its solid and imposing structure made it a key point in the island’s defence against the Spaniards. A 2006 archaeological impact assessment of the area surrounding the ruins found Taino, Spanish, English and Afro-Jamaican artifacts.

Edinburgh Castle, St Ann – Edinburgh Castle situated in Pedro district, St. Ann, was built by Lewis Hutchinson, a Scottish doctor who also happened to be Jamaica’s first recorded serial killer! The building, perhaps loftily titled a ‘castle,’ was constructed in the 1700s and named by its Scottish architect. It stands small and square with two storeys and two circular loop-holed towers at opposing diagonal corners.

Stewart Castle, Trelawny – The once impressive cut stone mansion known as Stewart Castle was originally fortified for protection against attack, with loopholes for fire muskets placed strategically around the entire building. The rectangular building appears to have been three storeys high, consisting of a cellar, ground floor and first floor. It featured square towers at opposite corners.

A Taino midden found on the property was excavated in 1957 by archaeologist Charles Cotter, revealing insights into the dietary habits of the land’s first known inhabitants. Materials found include marine shells(giant conchs and crab limbs), breast bones of birds and turtle bones.

Ownership of the properties on which the ruins and the midden are located was transferred to the JNHT by Kaiser Bauxite Company.

diG more

There are hundreds of other historical landmarks all across Jamaica. Take a look at Historical Sites in Jamaica Part1 and Part 2.

The Story Of The Gleaner

The Gleaner was born in 1834, a time of fundamental change for Jamaica. This year marked the beginning of the end of slavery in the British colonies. At that time business in Kingston was done mainly by auction.

This led two half-brothers, Jacob and Joshua deCordova, to seize a business opportunity to publish deCordova’s Advertising Sheet for the buying and selling of goods.

Following on the success of their first publication, on September 13, 1834, they launched the first edition of The Gleaner and Weekly Compendium of News, the predecessor to the current Gleaner.

The paper was published on Saturdays for a subscription of ten shillings per quarter for the city and thirteen shillings and four pence for rural areas.

Three months later they changed the billing to The Gleaner: A Weekly Family Newspaper Devoted to Literature, Morality, the Arts and Science and Amusements. Two years later they merged deCordova’s Advertising Sheet with The Gleaner to produce a four-page paper published every day except Sundays. The advertisements were printed on a separate sheet and distributed for free by five o’clock every morning and the whole paper was ready for subscribers by six o’clock in the morning.


A fire destroyed The Gleaner plant in 1882 and for two weeks the paper had to be printed at the Government Printing Office. Rebuilding after the fire, The Gleaner remained “the Old Lady of Harbour Street” for almost a century until she moved to her present location on the corner of North and East streets.

On June 10, 1897, The Gleaner went public under the stewardship of Joshua deCordova. Since then the family who founded The Gleaner has been represented on the board of directors of the company by the Ashenheim family. Under Joshua’s stewardship, The Gleaner identified with and promoted Jamaican business, even promoting tourism as a guarantor of the Jamaica Exhibition in 1891.

The earthquake of January 14, 1907 destroyed most of the city of Kingston, including the Gleaner building on Harbour Street. It would take two years of litigation before the English insurance companies finally paid earthquake damage claims and  a new enlarged building could be erected.

Four days after the building was completely destroyed, the newspaper was on the street again. An ‘emergency’ edition, printed at the Government Printing Office, was headlined “The Earthquake and the Future” and sold for three pence. The editorial read:

“On Monday evening we were struck by an earthquake and within forty seconds our capital had fallen and over 1,000 persons lay dead and dying on the ground…The blow has been terrible (but) we will not allow ourselves to be terrified.”


Motor delivery routes were established across the island in 1920, and a special magazine section, known popularly as “The Pink Sheet”, as it was printed on pink paper, was added to the Saturday Gleaner in 1925. It featured highlights of local social events.

In 1939, right after the outbreak of World War II, the Sunday Gleaner was introduced. During the war, newsprint and gasoline became scarce and the size of the Daily Gleaner had to be kept at eight or ten pages while the few gallons of rationed gas available had to be used to transport reporters covering news. Papers were delivered by train, bicycle, donkey, mule, boys on foot and anything else that could move without gas.

Academic Year 2019-2020 – Jamaica Calendar of School Terms and Holidays

Updated June 25, 2019

Please find below Jamaica’s Ministry of Education calendar of school terms and holidays for the academic year 2019 to 2020. Here you will find opening and closing dates for Jamaican schools, when examinations are taking place, and official dates for holidays.  This text is taken from the Ministry Of Education’s advisory  – screenshots of which appear at the end of this post.

The first/CHRISTMAS TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, September 2, 2019 and end on Tuesday December 17, 2019. The Christmas Holidays will be Wednesday December 18, 2019 to Friday January 3, 2020.  School will officially resume from Christmas Holidays on Monday January 6, 2020

The second/EASTER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, January 6, 2020 and end on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.  Easter Holidays will be on Thursday April 9, 2020 to Friday April 17, 2020.  School will officially resume from Easter Holidays on Monday April 20, 2020

The third/SUMMER TERM of the school year will commence on Monday, April 20, 2020 and end on Friday, July 3, 2020.  Summer Holidays will be on Monday, July 6, 2020 to Friday September 4, 2020.

The 2020/2021 School Year begins Monday, September 7, 2020

[See next page for Holidays – cont’d]

The Story of Emancipation

August 1, 1834 marked a special day for Africans in British colonies as it was the day they received freedom from slavery. In Jamaica, the Emancipation Declaration was read from the steps of the Old Kings House in Spanish Town, St Catherine, the country’s capital at the time.

The bill for the abolition of slavery in the British colonies received the royal assent on August 28,1838. It stated:

“Be it enacted, that all and every one of the persons who on the first day of August one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, shall be holden in slavery within such British colony as aforesaid, shall, upon and from and after the said first day of August, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, become and be to all intents and purposes free and discharged from all manner of slavery, and shall be absolutely and forever manumitted.”

The passage of this bill in the British Parliament in England enabled approximately 311,000 enslaved Africans in Jamaica and hundreds of thousands more across the colonies the freedom for which many of their predecessors had fought and died. However, the Africans did not receive full freedom until four years later, as all slaves over six years old were subjected to a mandatory six-year period of apprenticeship. The ex-slaves would work – without pay – for their former masters for three-quarters of the week (40 hours), in exchange for lodging, food, clothing. medical attendance and grounds on which they could grow their own provisions. They could also, if they chose, hire themselves out for additional wages during the remaining quarter of the week. With this money, an ex-slave could then buy his freedom.

Emancipation Day was officially introduced as a public holiday in Jamaica in 1893. The ‘First of August’ celebrations, however, were discontinued in 1962, when Jamaica gained independence. It was replaced by Independence Day, then observed on the first Monday in August. Emancipation Day was re-instituted in 1997 by then Prime Minister PJ Patterson as a national holiday celebrated on August 1. Independence Day was also fixed at August 6.

Here are some useful links for more information about Emancipation Day:

Explore diG Jamaica’s History category for more about Jamaica’s history.

When Heat Becomes Life-Threatening

Increased physical activity and prolonged exposure to the sun during hot, humid weather can bring on heatstroke. a dangerous condition in which the body is unable to cool itself. Heat exhaustion is a condition in which the body becomes dehydrated.

How heatstroke affects the body:

  • Sweat evaporating from the skin cools the body.  When it is humid it is harder to cool off because moisture in the air prevents sweat from evaporating as much.
  • When blood temperature rises, the hypothalamus sends signals to stimulate sweat glands, dilate blood vessels and increase heart rate.
  • Increased blood flow to the skin cools the body by radiating heat.
  • Excessive sweating can deplete fluid and salts.  If fluids are not replaced, heat remains in the blood and organs slowly break down, usually resulting in death.

How to recognize and treat heat-induced illnesses:


Heat Exhaustion: Insufficient water and salt intake are the primary causes.  Faintness, dizziness and fatigue are usually the first signs

Heatstroke: Heat exhaustion, if untreated can develop into heatstroke as heat builds up in the body. People who aren’t treated can quickly die


Heat Exhaustion: Usually cold and clammy with heavy sweating

Heatstroke: Hot, dry and red.  Perspiration usually stops completely.


Heat Exhaustion: Rapid and weak

Heatstroke: Rapid and strong


Heat Exhaustion: Usually low or normal

Heatstroke: Above 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius).  At 107 degrees Fahrenheit (41.7 degrees Celsius) usually is fatal


Heat Exhaustion: Thirst, giddiness, weakness and lack of coordination

Heatstroke: Fainting or staggering, confusion or delirium


Heat Exhaustion: Lie down in a cool, shady place. Loosen clothing.  Sip water (unless nauseated).  Seek medical attention immediately if vomiting occurs.

Heatstroke: Seek medical attention immediately.  Move to a cool place.  Remove clothing. Apply a wet sheet or immerse in cool water.

See also:

Sources: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association Encyclopedia of Medicine, Complete Guide to Sports Injuries. This information was published in The Gleaner on 7/16/2019

GDP : January – March 2019

According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, here are the highlights for the January – March 2019 quarter for the Jamaican Economy.


First Quarter of 2019 Growth was 1.7% compared to the first quarter of 2019


  • Goods Producing Industries increased by 1.7%
  • Services Industries increased by 1.8%

Goods Producing Industries

  • Mining & Quarrying: 11.1%
  • Construction: 3.4%
  • Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing: 0.3%
  • Manufacturing: -1.4%

Service Industries

  • Hotels & Restaurants: 7.3%
  • Finance & Insurance Services: 2.5%
  • Electricity & Water Supply: 1.9%
  • Other Services: 1.8%
  • Wholesale & Retail; Repairs; Installation of Machinery & Equipment: 1.3%
  • Transport, Storage & Communication: 1.2%
  • Real Estate, Renting and Business Activities: 1.0%
  • Producers of Government Services: 0.2%

5 Things: GWest Corporation Limited’s Annual Report 2019

GWest Corporation Limited (the company) is incorporated and domiciled in Jamaica. Its main activities are the development of commercial properties and the provision of healthcare services.

Here are 5 things of note from its Annual Report for the Year Ended March 31, 2019 which was published on the Jamaica Stock Exchange website on July 1, 2019:

1. Emphasis of Matter – Note 28

The auditors are concerned.

“The company recorded a net loss of $135.876 million during the year ended March 31, 2019 (2018: net loss of $88.109 million). At that date it had accumulated losses of $18.783 million. The above factors indicate a material uncertainty that may cast doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern and to therefore realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the ordinary course of business. The continuation of the company as a going concern is dependent on the availability of the third party financing and on future sustained profitable operations.”

2. Earnings Per Stock Unit

Although GWest EPS improved from a loss of (0.55) per share in 2018 to a loss of (0.28) per share in 2019, this was attributable to the issuance of 250,000,000 preference shares during the year.

“The calculation of earning per stock unit is based on the net loss after tax of $135.876million (2018: loss after tax of $88.109million) and the weighted average number of stock units in issue during the reporting period of 484,848,485 (2018: 160,797,841) units.”

3. Revenue

Revenue leaped 96% to $129.96million led by a sharp rise of 342% in patient fees. Patient fees now make up the majority of revenue for the company.

4. Expenses

Expenses rose sharply by 66% to $276million. A new cost for 2019 called Medical Consultancy fees contributed $45million or 16% of all expenses. The largest expense, however, continued to be repairs, maintenance and waste disposal at $70million.

5. Management Plans

From Note 28 of the Annual Report

Management is committed to continue operations as a going concern and is pursuing a number of strategies to return to profitability, which include:

  • sale of investment property units
  • commencement of operations of planned new surgery centre
  • increased marketing and promotion of new services being offered
  • continue rationalisation of expenses obtaining additional third party financing for improved working capital

At the date of these financial statements, the company was in an advanced stage of negotiations with its bankers regarding the restructuring its current borrowing arrangements and to obtain further financing for its strategic plans.

Additionally, subsequent to the year end, the company has signed sale agreements for two units of its investment property.”

NOTE:  This post is for information only and should not be construed as professional advice.  The report is linked above. 

How To: Register For a Business Name As A Sole Trader Or Partnership

Registration of a business offers legitimacy to allow individuals to offer services from an established address.  It is beneficial because it allows the individual to access loans and grants, obtain contracts, operate bank accounts in their business’ name, inspire customer confidence and establish proper ownership.

If a business in operation is not registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), it is considered to be illegal.  Business names can be registered as a sole trade or a sole proprietorship, meaning there is one owner or a partnership where between two (2) and twenty (20) persons jointly own the business.

Who should register?

  • Individuals or firms which buy or sell goods from an established address.
  • Individuals or firms offering services from an established address in a name other than the individual’s own name or the name of all the partners in the firm.

To register a business the following is needed to be completed:

  • Sole traders must complete a BRF1 form (commonly called the Super Form) which can be obtained at the COJ or downloaded from its website. A registration fee of J$2,500 must accompany the form.
  • Partnerships must complete a BRF1 form.  The registration fee is also J$2,500; however, if there are more than five partners the fee applied would be J$5,000.

Once the registration process is completed, the business’ name is uploaded to the COJ website.  This is to prove to customers who are interested in a business to check the company’s credentials and ensure the businesses is legal.

This information was published in The Gleaner on April 30, 2019

For more resources to help you start a business:



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