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Call to help plant more native trees

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Volunteers plant trees as part of the Bermuda National Trust’s drive to repopulate the island with native and endemic trees (Photograph supplied)
Volunteers plant trees as part of the Bermuda National Trust’s drive to repopulate the island with native and endemic trees (Photograph supplied)
Volunteers plant trees as part of the Bermuda National Trust’s drive to repopulate the island with native and endemic trees (Photograph supplied)

A conservation charity is calling on the community to lend a helping hand to plant endemic trees around the island.

The Bermuda National Trust launched the tree planting initiative five years ago and has planted in the region of 100 trees a year at Paget Marsh and other trust properties around the island.

The goal of the initiative is to offset carbon emissions while repopulating the island with native and endemic plants.

Myles Darrell, conservation officer at the BNT, said: “There is no foreseeable end to this project because our open canopy environment is likely to always need management.

“Even once trees occupy all the space, I’m sure it will take a while to reinvigorate our understory plants.

“The Trust is providing opportunities to be part of this type of positive community service on a regular basis and, over the year, try to visit all parishes.

“We conduct volunteer days monthly, have various ongoing maintenance projects that individuals can help move forward, projects that are well suited to groups and students alike where learning and giving take place all for the benefit of our greater community. I encourage everyone to reach out and get involved.”

In celebration of the trust’s 50th anniversary, some 500 trees were planted over the course of last year.

“It was a remarkable achievement given that it was the year of Covid-19 and lockdown,” Mr Darrell said.

He anticipates this year the number could be close to 300 given the trust, along with its volunteers, will be planting at Eve’s Pond, in Hamilton Parish.

Several organisations are involved in volunteering for the Trust’s project including BESolar, te Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, St Paul’s Church Boys Brigade, Greenrock and Keep Bermuda Beautiful.

BESolar approached BNT looking for a way to help offset Bermuda’s carbon emissions while creating a team-building programme for staff at the company.

It planted its first tree at Paget Marsh in 2017 and has team days at the site twice a year clearing out invasive plants and replacing them with natives and endemics.

Stratton Hatfield, director of development at BESolar, said: “We are focusing on how to make a difference from an environmental perspective and we wanted to plant a tree for every solar system we installed.

“Our whole premise at BESolar is, how can we make Bermuda more resilient by planting endemic trees so we are planting things in the ground that are more resilient to the weather patterns, and reinforcing trees that are for Bermuda.

“Certainly there’s lots of space that has been taken over by invasive plants – we have moved cane grass, Brazilian pepper, Chinese fan palms and balloon vine, and replaced them with Bermuda cedar, Bermuda palmetto and olive wood – those are the main ones.

“We envisage returning to the endemic forest with our children – it’s a legacy building project.”

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students have helped to weed, water, and mulched around trees to reduce weed growth, maintain soil moisture and increase fertility among other things.

Mr Darrell added: “It has meant that about 98 per cent of trees planted have survived and are flourishing. The feedback from the students has been tremendous as they feel a sense of ownership and pride in the space and Bermuda. They also leave with stronger on-the-ground skills including native and endemic plant identification and best planting and maintenance practices.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the trust should call Lauren Simons on 236-6483 or e-mail palmetto@bnt.bm

Anyone interested can find out more about the programme here.

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Published April 03, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated April 01, 2021 at 7:22 am)

Call to help plant more native trees

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