World Environment Day is celebrated annually and is the United Nation's principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. This year, the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Minister Miklos Giterson commemorated World Environment Day by planting eight coconut trees (Cocos nucifera) along the beachfront of the Boardwalk in front of the Walter Plantz Square.
Native to India and Southeast Asia, the coconut tree is believed to have been introduced to the Caribbean Region by European explorers in the 16th century. While not native, coconut trees have become quite at home and intertwined themselves into Caribbean culture.
Coconut is considered one of the ten most useful trees in the world with around 83 known functions such as food, medicine, ropes, instruments, and building materials. The planting of these coconut trees will provide a number of benefits such as carbon sequestration, erosion control, habitat for wildlife, air purification, supply oxygen, and improve aesthetics, as well as added shade and recreational value for visitors to the beach. Planting of these coconut trees will also increase coastal resilience to climate change through absorbing the destructive forces of wind and water.
This World Environment Day 2019 tree planting initiative hopes to highlight the commitment of VROMI to providing and maintaining a green and resilient natural environment that is also enjoyable for residents and visitors alike. As well as inspiring environmental appreciation and awareness amongst the population of Sint Maarten.
Minister Giterson and Tadzio Bervoets, Managing Director of the Nature Foundation, were present on the planting day. Through the signed Service Level Agreement with the Nature Foundation, the Ministry of VROMI continues to support their environmental education and awareness raising campaigns.
Procurement and planting of the coconut trees for this initiative was organized with Greenfingers, N.V. These trees will replace some of the palm trees that were lost during hurricane Irma. The Walter Plantz Square staff of Port St. Maarten will tend to the trees so that they may thrive and benefit the area.
The Ministry of VROMI looks forward to similar initiatives and cooperation with the local NGO’s, businesses and organizations to design feasible and ecologically beneficial tree planting schemes.